Vera Achvarina

Guest Researcher

Vera Achvarina left PRIO in 2006. The information on this page is kept for historical reasons.

Research Interests

Research Interest Areas: recruitment of children in world intrastate conflicts, organizational strategies of norm promotion, actors’ commitment to and compliance with international/domestic norms.

Preliminary PhD Dissertation Title: “Factors explaining varying rates of child recruitment in world intrastate conflicts: an empirical analysis.”

Dissertation Project Description: In my dissertation I address the following research question: what explains the variance in child soldiers’ participation in governmental and rebel armed forces during intrastate conflicts? Despite the gravity of the problem, there is a lack of systematic research on child soldiers that would reveal under what conditions some intrastate conflicts had higher child soldiers ratios among the armed forces than others. Existing findings of academic works and numerous NGO reports generally cite such causes of child soldiering as poverty, loss of a family, or spread of small arms. However, these findings are usually based on sparse interviews with former child soldiers and have not been subjected to a systematic examination across countries. In my dissertation I comparatively examine all intrastate conflicts since 1975 in which children were participating. In my previous coauthored work, I systematically tested existing arguments on a newly compiled dataset of aggregated data for the duration of conflicts. The preliminary results of this work, as well as further investigation of the subject, lead to hypotheses that different levels of demand for recruits combined with dissimilar levels of availability of adult manpower in a country, as well as varying levels of protection of IDP and refugee camps from which children are recruited, help explain the divergence in ratios of child soldiers in intrastate conflicts of different countries. The current work involves creation of a disaggregated dataset on dependent and independent variables, as well as data for the new operationalization of independent variables from the previous research. Econometric techniques are to be used to test the hypotheses upon the completion of the dataset.


Languages spoken:

Russian (native), English, Chinese (moderate)


· PhD candidate, Graduate School of Public and International Affairs (GSPIA), University of Pittsburgh, since August 2003, expected graduation: May 2007
· MA, East Asian Studies, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, August 2003
· BA, Theoretical and Applied Linguistics (5 year program, MA equivalent), Russian State University for Humanities, Moscow, July 2000


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The following publications are specific to the Centre for the Study of Civil War. A more complete list may be available at

All Publications

Peer-reviewed Journal Article

Rustad, Siri Aas; Ragnhild Nordås; Vera Achvarina & Gudrun Østby (2009) Armut und die Rekrutierung von Kindersoldaten: Neue Evidenz aus einer disaggregierten Analyse der afrikanischen Regionen [Poverty and Child Soldier Recruitment: A Disaggregated Study of African Regions], Politische Vierteljahresschrift Sonderhefte 43: 386–413.

Conference Paper

Rustad, Siri Aas; Ragnhild Nordås; Gudrun Østby & Vera Achvarina (2008) Regional Welfare and Child Soldier Recruitment : A Disaggregated Study of African RegionsUniversity of Konstanz, 22–23 February.
Achvarina, Vera; Ragnhild Nordås; Siri Aas Rustad & Gudrun Østby (2007) Regional Poverty and Child Soldier Recruitment: A Disaggregated Study of Sub-National African Regions, 1990–2004, presented at the 48th Annual Metting of the International Studies Association, Chicago, IL, 28 February–3 March.

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