Professor David Cunnigham and Associate Professor Kathleen Cunningham have received a two-year, $480,000 grant from the National Science Foundation Political Science program to conduct a systematic study of the effect of conflict prevention actions in a wide range of intrastate disputes.

The project will collect comprehensive new data on conflict prevention efforts in a set of governmental and territorial disputes. This will be the first global dataset on conflict prevention efforts for disputes that are primarily nonviolent but can escalate to civil war. These data will be used to test implications of the theoretical argument and to examine whether international action can lead to a reduced likelihood of civil war, and, if so, which actions are most effective and in what contexts. These quantitative tests will be supplemented with qualitative analysis designed to more directly examine the underlying mechanisms and effects of preventive actions on dissident and state decision-making.

The project’s findings will contribute to understanding of why civil wars happen and whether and how international actors can work to prevent them from occurring. These results will both help to inform scholars seeking to understand these dynamics and policymakers interested in determining how and when to work to prevent violent conflicts. The project has direct relevance to U.S. national security interests, with conflict prevention being a key focus for U.S. foreign policy, given the importance of stopping threats before they emerge.

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