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Peace Economics, Peace Science and Public Policy

Editor-in-Chief: Caruso, Raul

Ed. by Bove, Vincenzo / Kibris, Arzu / Sekeris, Petros

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Volume 19, Issue 3


Volume 17 (2011)

Volume 4 (1996)

Volume 3 (1995)

Volume 2 (1994)

Volume 1 (1993)

New Incentives and Old Organizations: The Production of Violence After War

Francesca Grandi
Published Online: 2013-10-26 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/peps-2013-0040


The immediate aftermath of an armed conflict is a key window of opportunity to build sustainable peace and security. Whether and how violence arises during that time has profound effects on a country’s political and economic development. Yet, conceptualizing post-conflict violence has remained elusive. Much of this difficulty arises because post-conflict violence is a liminal phenomenon with a dual nature: it emerges during transitions from war to peace and is a combination of new strategic incentives and wartime organizational legacies. This paper contributes to a more comprehensive understanding of post-conflict violence with a theory-grounded typology, based on two axes: strategic aims (predatory, constructive) and degrees of cooperation (directed, coordinated, spontaneous). The premise of this categorizing effort is that with a more solid grasp of the mechanisms driving post-conflict violence and its variation we can design more suitable policies to lower its incidence.

Keywords: post-conflict; violence; typology

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About the article

Corresponding author: Francesca Grandi, Department of Political Science, Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA, E-mail:

Published Online: 2013-10-26

Published in Print: 2013-12-01

I agree with Suhrke (Suhrke and Berdal 2012) that “post-conflict violence” is an oxymoron and therefore the term “postwar violence” is more appropriate. I follow the established convention in academia and practice, however, and use the two expressions interchangeably.

Extended versions of this idea are in Grandi, 2012 and Grandi, 2013.

As a result, post-conflict violence lies at the margin of existing datasets. The COW Project and the UCDP/PRIO do not account for violence happening outside an “armed conflict.” The UCDP One-sided Violence Dataset, the UCDP Geo-referenced Event Dataset, the CIRI Human Rights Dataset, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime Homicide Statistics, and the World Bank Death Rate Dataset are closer to capture the phenomenon of post-conflict violence, but alone cannot provide the full picture as they cover only killings, by specific armed groups, and their timeframes are not always limited to the aftermath of a war. The first and the second datasets measure “the use of armed force by a state’s government or by a formally organized group against civilians” (Sundberg, 2009). The third looks at “killings by government officials without due process of law.” The fourth covers the “unlawful death purposefully inflicted on a person by another person.” The fifth collects crude death rates, or “the number of deaths per year, per 1000 people.”

Defining the immediate aftermath of a conflict may be difficult to operationalize from an empirical lens and using any threshold (e.g., 1 year, 5 years, 10 years, etc.) to capture this may seem arbitrary. However, a 2-year cut-off point seems reasonable as this coincides with the scope conditions of the theoretical framework suggested in this paper. I follow the UCDP definition, according to which a conflict is terminated “each time [it] fails to reach the level of inclusion in one calendar year,” i.e., the 25 battle-related deaths criteria. This can occur “by any of the following events: 1) victory; 2) peace agreement; 3) ceasefire agreement; 4) low activity; 5) no activity; or 6) other (see: www.pcr.uu.se/research/ucdp/definitions; emphasis added).

Similarly, Tilly (2003, 13–15) juxtaposes leaders of centralized organizations guiding followers and drunken sailors scuffling with military police to distinguish different types of “interpersonal violence” by “the extent of coordination among violence actors.” In other words, there is a qualitative difference between private and public violence. As Boyle (in Suhrke, 2012, 98–99) puts it, “revenge” and “reprisal” violence differ because the latter has “communicative aims” geared toward a public audience.

My use of the term “revolution” is less demanding than Skocpol’s (1979) “both a change in state institutions and a change in social structures.”

Instead, in post-Dayton Yugoslavia, the ethnic, territorial, and political partition of Bosnia Herzegovina was not challenged through violent means (Berdal, in: Suhkre and Berdal 2012: 76).

Citation Information: Peace Economics, Peace Science and Public Policy, Volume 19, Issue 3, Pages 309–319, ISSN (Online) 1554-8597, ISSN (Print) 1079-2457, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/peps-2013-0040.

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