The Boundaries of Civil Wars

Identifying 'Grey Areas' and Testing Definitions

Please note: This page refers to an event that has already taken place.

Time: 18 Aug 2004 - 19 Aug 2004
Place: PRIO, Fuglehauggata 11. Oslo

This Workshop addresses: What are the key characteristics/parameters/features that distinguish civil wars from other forms of violence?


The key issues
  •  Constructing ‘broad’ and ‘narrow’ definitions and building data sets
  • Quantitative/measurable parameters: duration, casualties, combatants
  • Civil wars in the emerging world system
  • Channels of inter-penetration of inter-state and intra-state conflicts
  • The overlap and interplay between civil wars and terrorism
  • Features of state failure: crime, mob violence, coups, revolutions 

The format

Combining the discussions centered on commissioned papers with free-wheeling debates (round-tables) focused on particular topics


The venue: PRIO canteen


The plan for the brain-storm


August 18

Session 1 (13.00 – 15.00), Chair: Pavel Baev

Instrumentalizing definitions, challenging data sets.

Paper by Scott Gates, ‘Assessing the empirical nature of civil war’.

Comments by Jon Elster, Nils Petter Gleditsch, Håvard Strand.


Session 2 (15.30 – 17.00), Chair: Scott Gates

Governance, monopoly on violence and state failure.

Round-table discussion led by Robert Bates, Kaare Strøm, Jon Elster.




August 19

Session 3 (09.30 – 11.00), Chair: Sven Gunnar Simonsen

The history of ideas, collection of definitions, key problems.

Paper by Greg Reichberg, ‘Internal vs. external war: Emergence of the distinction in the Christian Middle Ages’.

Comments by Henrik Syse, Torkel Brekke.


Session 4 (11.15 – 12.45), Chair: Kristian Berg Harpviken.

Post-Soviet conflicts and definitions of civil war.

Paper by Pavel Baev, ‘Fine-tuning definitions for re-evaluating conflict patterns’.

Comments by Jeff Checkel, Sven Gunnar Simonsen.


Lunch (13.00-14.30)


Session 5 (14.45 – 16.00), Chair: Hilde Henriksen Waage.

Domestic instabilities and international terrorism: focus on SE Asia.

Paper by Stein Tønnesson, ‘Distinguishing civil war from international war – and terrorism – in the Southeast Asian state system’.

Comments by Kristian Berg Harpviken, Bethany Lacina.


Session 6 (16.10 – 17.00).

Workshop summary discussion: World system and regional environment.

(Round-table led by Øyvind Østerud, Jeff Checkel, Stein Tønnesson)