Transnational Dimensions of Civil War

Peer-reviewed Journal Article

Gleditsch, Kristian Skrede (2007) Transnational Dimensions of Civil War, Journal of Peace Research 44(3): 293–309.

Existing research has related civil war primarily to country-specific factors or processes that take place within individual states experiencing conflict. Many contemporary civil wars, however, display a transnational character, where actors, resources, and events span national boundaries. This article challenges the 'closed polity' approach to the study of civil war, where individual states are treated as independent entities, and posits that transnational factors and linkages between states can exert strong influences on the risk of violent civil conflict. Previous research has shown that conflicts in a state's regional context can increase the risk of conflict, but the research has not distinguished between different varieties of transnational linkages that may underlie geographic contagion, and it has failed to consider the potential influences of domestic attributes. The article develops and evaluates a series of hypotheses on how transnational factors can influence the risk of conflict and the prospects for maintaining peace in a conditional autologistic model, including country-specific factors often associated with civil wars. The results suggest that transnational linkages between states and regional factors strongly influence the risk of civil conflict. This, in turn, implies that the risk of civil war is not determined just by a country's internal or domestic characteristics, but differs fundamentally, depending on a country's linkages to other states.

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Kristian Skrede Gleditsch

Kristian Skrede Gleditsch

Research Professor