Hysteresis of targeting civilians in armed conflicts


  • Uih Ran Lee University of Bradford




Civilian targeting, prolonged armed conflict, civilian targeting index (CTI), hysteresis


This article explores warring groups’ intentional targeting behavior against civilians, a strictly prohibited war strategy by international norms. Using dynamic panel regressions run on a comprehensive dataset of contemporary warfare, which covers 22 years (1989-2010), I find that warring actors involved in prolonged armed (15-22 years) conflict target civilians more often than those involved in shorter-duration warfare. Also, for warring groups engaged in prolonged armed conflict, lethal behavior against civilians tends to be intensified if targeting is repeated over time, although this hysteresis effect appears to persist only for one year. It is hypothesized that the mounting war cost of prolonged conflict inclines warring groups toward the presumably cheaper targeting of noncombatant civilians rather than battling combatant military or other armed personnel. [JEL code: F51]

Author Biography

Uih Ran Lee, University of Bradford

Lecturer in Economics, Division of Economics


Arellano, M. and S. Bond. 1991. “Some Tests of Specification for Panel Data: Monte Carlo Evidence and an Application to Employment Equations.” Review of Economic Studies. Vol. 58, No. 2, pp. 227-297. http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/2297968

Arellano, M. and O. Bover. 1995. “Another Look at the Instrumental Variables Estimation of Error Components Models.” Journal of Econometrics. Vol. 68, No. 1, pp. 29-51. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/0304-4076(94)01642-D

Arreguín-Toft, I. 2001. “How the Weak Win Wars: A Theory of Asymmetric Conflict.” International Security. Vol. 26, No. 1, pp. 93-128. http://dx.doi.org/10.1162/016228801753212868

Blundell, R. and S. Bond. 1998. “Initial Conditions and Moment Restrictions in Dynamic Panel Data Models.” Journal of Econometrics. Vol. 87, No. 1, pp. 11-143. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0304-4076(98)00009-8

Bond, S. 2002. “Dynamic Panel Data Models: A Guide to Micro Data Methods and Practice.” Portuguese Economic Journal. Vol. 1, No. 2, pp 141-162. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10258-002-0009-9

Bruno, G. 2005a. “Estimation and Inference in Dynamic Unbalanced Panel Data Models with a Small Number of Individuals.” The Stata Journal. Vol. 5, No. 4, pp. 473-500.

Bruno, G. 2005b. “Approximating the bias of the LSDV Estimator for Dynamic Unbalanced Panel Data Model.” Econometric Letters. Vol. 87, No. 3, pp. 115-143. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.econlet.2005.01.005

Chesterman, S. 2001. “Introduction: Global Norms, Local Contexts,” pp. 1-6 in Chesterman, eds. Civilians in War. Lynne Rienner Publishers.

Collier P., V. Elliott, H. Hegre, A. Hoeffler, M. Reynal-Querol, and N. Sambanis. 2003. Breaking the Conflict Trap. Washington, D.C.: The World Bank.

Collier, P. and A. Hoeffler 1998. “On Economic Causes of Civil Wars.” Oxford Economic Papers. Vol. 50, No. 4, pp. 563-573.

Collier, P., A. Hoeffler, and M. Söderbom. 2004. “On the Duration of Civil War.” Journal of Peace Research. Vol. 41, No. 3, pp. 253-273. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0022343304043769

Eck, K. and L. Hultman. 2007. “One-sided Violence against Civilians in War: Insights from New Fatality Data.” Journal of Peace Research. Vol. 44, No. 2, pp. 233-246. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0022343307075124

Ewing, J. 1885. “Experimental Research in Magnetism.” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Vol. 176, pp. 523-640. http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rstl.1885.0010

Harff, B. 2003. “No Lessons Learned from the Holocaust? Assessing Risks of Genocide and Political Mass Murder since 1955.” American Political Science Review. Vol. 97, No 1, pp. 57-73. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0003055403000522

Hicks, M., U. Lee, R. Sundberg, and M. Spagat. 2011. “Global Comparison of Warring Groups in 2002–2007: Fatalities from Targeting Civilians vs. Fighting Battles.” PloS ONE, Vol. 6, No. 9:e23976. http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0023976

Humphreys, M. and J. Weinstein. 2006. “Handling and Manhandling Civilians in Civil War.” American Political Science Review. Vol. 100, No. 3, pp. 429-447. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0003055406062289

[ICRC] International Committee of the Red Cross. 2010. “International Humanitarian Law.” http://www.icrc.org/eng/war-and-law/ [accessed 24 November 2014].

Roodman, D. 2009a. “A Note on the Theme of Too Many Instruments.” Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics. Vol. 71, pp. 135-158. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-0084.2008.00542.x

Roodman, D. 2009b. “How to Do xtabond2: An Introduction to Difference and System GMM in Stata.” The Stata Journal. Vol. 9, No. 1, pp. 86-136.

UCDP. 2008. “UCDP One-sided Violence Codebook v.1.3.” Uppsala Conflict Data Program, UCDP Database, Uppsala University.

UCDP. 2011a. “Non-State Conflict Codebook Version 2.3-2011.” Uppsala Conflict Data Program, UCDP Database, Uppsala University.

UCDP. 2011b. “UCDP Battle-Related Deaths Dataset Codebook version 5.0.” Uppsala Conflict Data Program, Uppsala University.

UCDP 2011c. “UCDP External Support Codebook for Details of External Support.” Uppsala Conflict Data Program, Uppsala University.

Valentino, B., P. Huth, and D. Balch-Lindsay. 2004. “Draining the Sea: Mass Killing and Guerrilla Warfare.” International Organization. Vol. 58, No. 2, pp. 375-407. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0020818304582061

Van Bueren, G. 1994. “The International Legal Protection of Children in Armed Conflicts.” International and Comparative Law Quarterly. Vol. 43, pp. 809-826.

Vargas, J. 2009. “Military Empowerment and Civilian Targeting in Civil War”, HiCN Working Papers 56. Households in Conflict Network.

Wood, R. 2010. “Rebel Capability and Strategic Violence Against Civilians.” Journal of Peace Research. Vol. 47, No. 5, pp. 601-614. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0022343310376473

Zahar, M. 2000. “Protégés, Clients, Cannon Fodder: Civilians in the Calculus of Militias.” International Peacekeeping. Vol. 7, No. 4, pp. 107-128. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13533310008413866




How to Cite

Lee, U. R. (2015). Hysteresis of targeting civilians in armed conflicts. The Economics of Peace and Security Journal, 10(2). https://doi.org/10.15355/epsj.10.2.31




Similar Articles

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 > >> 

You may also start an advanced similarity search for this article.