Academic Publications


  1. Amisi, C.; R. B. Apassa, A. Cikara, G. Østby, R. Nordås, S. Aa. Rustad, and J. Quattrochi (forthcoming) “The impact of support programs for survivors of sexual violence: Micro-level evidence from eastern Democratic Republic of Congo”. Medicine, Conflict & Survival
  2. Leiby M., G. Østby, & R. Nordås (forthcoming) “The legacy of wartime violence on intimate partner abuse”. Research note. International Studies Quarterly
  3. Finnbakk, I. & R. Nordås (forthcoming) “Community perspectives and pathways to reintegration of survivors of sexual violence in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo”. Human Rights Quarterly


  1. Nordås, R. (2018) “‘Sons of the Soil’ Conflicts and Autochthony: Bridging the Literatures” in People Changing Places: New Perspectives on Demography, Migration, Conflict and the State, edited by Isabelle Côté, Matthew I. Mitchell and Monica Duffy Toft. Routledge.


  1. Nordås, R. (2017) “The Prevalence of Conflict-Related Sexual Violence: When, Where and By Whom? ” In Peace and Conflict 2017. David Backer, Ravinder Bhavnani, Paul Huth, eds. Taylor & Francis.


2. Does Artisanal Mining Increase the Risk of Sexual Violence?  Quality in Primary Care (2016). (with Siri Aas Rustad and Gudrun Østby)

DR Congo’s natural resource abundance has featured in policy debates and amongst advocacy groups as the prime example of ‘conflict minerals’ driving conflict-related sexual violence. Yet, systematic analyses of the links between mining, conflict, and sexual violence are scarce. This article explores this link combining new subnational data on the geographical location of ASM sites with detailed micro-level data on exposure to sexual violence from the 2013/2014 Demographic and Health Survey in DRC. We find that women living close to ASM sites are indeed more likely to experience sexual violence. In the Kivus and Maniema, the risk of experiencing sexual violence is particularly high for women that live close to a mine with the presence of one or more armed actors.


  1. “Artisanal mining, conflict, and sexual violence in Eastern DRC.” The Extractive Industries and Society 3.2 (2016): 475-484. (with Siri Aas Rustad and Gudrun Østby)

The natural resource abundance of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has featured in policy debates as the prime example of ‘conflict minerals’ driving conflict-related sexual violence. This narrative has dominated how the conflict in the eastern part of the country has been portrayed in the media and by high-level policy-makers. Despite increased attention to research on mining and gender, systematic analyses of the links between mining, conflict, and sexual violence are scarce. This paper contributes to filling this gap by exploring how artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) and sexual violence are related in Eastern DRC. We combine new subnational data on the geographical location of ASM sites with detailed survey data from the 2013/2014 Demographic and Health survey of women aged 15–49 on their exposure to sexual violence committed by their intimate partners and by others (non-partners). The results indicate that women living in close proximity to ASM are indeed more likely to experience sexual violence of both types, although the effect is stronger for non-partner sexual violence. In the Kivus and Maniema, the risk of experiencing non-partner sexual is particularly high for women that live close to a mine with the presence of an armed actor.

Armed conflict; ASM; Democratic Republic of the Congo; Sexual violence; Mineral mining


3. “Climate change and conflict” In Competition and Conflicts on Resource Use. Susanne Hartland & Wolfgang Liebert (eds.) Springer. Pp. 21-38. (with Nils Petter Gleditsch)

This chapter outlines some plausible scenarios for how climate change might influence conflict through mechanisms like an increased frequency of natural disasters, sea-level rise, and droughts, particularly when they interact with stagnating development and poor governance. The tentative conclusion based on evidence as of today is that, although climate change is likely to have other dire consequences, there is little cause for invoking  apocalyptic scenarios for armed conflicts specifically as long as climate change stays within the most probably IPCC scenarios for this century. Nevertheless, interaction effects between climate change and other conflict-inducing factors deserve closer attention.


2. “Do States Delegate Shameful Violence to Militias? Patterns of Sexual Violence in Recent Armed Conflicts” Journal of Conflict Resolution 59(5): 877-898. (with Dara Kay Cohen)

Existing research maintains that governments delegate extreme, gratuitous, or excessively brutal violence to militias. However, analyzing all militias in armed conflicts from 1989 to 2009, we find that this argument does not account for the observed patterns of sexual violence, a form of violence that should be especially likely to be delegated by governments. Instead, we find that states commit sexual violence as a complement to—rather than a substitute for—violence perpetrated by militias. Rather than the logic of delegation, we argue that two characteristics of militia groups increase the probability of perpetrating sexual violence. First, we find that militias that have recruited children are associated with higher levels of sexual violence. This lends support to a socialization hypothesis, in which sexual violence may be used as a tool for building group cohesion. Second, we find that militias that were trained by states are associated with higher levels of sexual violence, which provides evidence for sexual violence as a “practice” of armed groups. These two complementary results suggest that militia-perpetrated sexual violence follows a different logic and is neither the result of delegation nor, perhaps, indiscipline.

1. “Assessing Sexual Exploitation and Abuse by Peacekeepers” in Louise Olsson & Ismene Gizelis eds.  Understanding of Gender, Peace and Security: Implementing UNSCR 1325. Taylor & Francis. (with Siri Aas Rustad)



4. “Sexual Violence in Armed Conflict: A new dataset 1989-2009”. Journal of Peace Research, 51(3): 418-428. (with Dara Kay Cohen)

Which armed groups have perpetrated sexual violence in recent conflicts? This article presents patterns from the new Sexual Violence in Armed Conflict (SVAC) dataset. The dataset, coded from the three most widely used sources in the quantitative human rights literature, covers 129 active conflicts, and the 625 armed actors involved in these conflicts, during the period 1989–2009. The unit of observation is the conflict-actor-year, allowing for detailed analysis of the patterns of perpetration of sexual violence for each conflict actor. The dataset captures six dimensions of sexual violence: prevalence, perpetrators, victims, forms, location, and timing. In addition to active conflict-years, the dataset also includes reports of sexual violence committed by conflict actors in the five years post-conflict. We use the data to trace variation in reported conflict-related sexual violence over time, space, and actor type, and outline the dataset’s potential utility for scholars. Among the insights offered are that the prevalence of sexual violence varies dramatically by perpetrator group, suggesting that sexual violations are common – but not ubiquitous. In addition, we find that state militaries are more likely to be reported as perpetrators of sexual violence than either rebel groups or militias. Finally, reports of sexual violence continue into the post-conflict period, sometimes at very high levels. The data may be helpful both to scholars and policymakers for better understanding the patterns of sexual violence, its causes, and its consequences.

3. “Religious demography and conflict: Lessons from Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana.” International Area Studies Review, 17(2): 146-166.

Statistical models of civil war onset are often unsupportive of a link between measures of cultural demography and conflict. This study suggests that this is in part because most studies fail to account for what factors make demographic cleavages salient, such as policies of exclusion and repression against growing minorities that are threatening to incumbent regimes. A comparison of Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana is used to shed light on this process. Based on a state of the art statistical model of civil war onset, the countries had strikingly similar conflict risk in the early 2000s, but conflict only erupted only in Côte d’Ivoire in 2002. An important factor to explain this is the exclusion and repression in the Ivorian case, spurred by a perceived increase in the northern Muslim population, vs the more accommodative policy in neighboring Ghana. Implementing lessons from this study could improve future statistical models of civil war.

2. “Conflicting messages? The IPCC on conflict and human securityPolitical Geography. (with Nils Petter Gleditsch)

Violence seems to be on a long-term decline in the international system. The possibility that climate change would create more violent conflict was mentioned in scattered places in the Third and Fourth Assessment Reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), published in 2001 and 2007 respectively. The empirical literature testing for relationships between climate change and various forms of conflict has undergone a major expansion since then. The report from Working Group II of the Fifth Assessment Report contains a much more careful assessment of the climate change-conflict nexus. The Human security chapter reports high agreement and robust evidence that human security will be progressively threatened as the climate changes. But as far as the impact on armed conflict is concerned, it paints a balanced picture, concluding that while individual studies vary in their conclusions, ‘collectively the research does not conclude that there is a strong positive relationship between warming and armed conflict’. The chapter also argues that climate change is likely to have an influence on some known drivers of conflict, and this point is reiterated in other chapters as well as the Technical summary and the Summary for policymakers. A chapter on ‘Emergent trends …’ has a somewhat more dramatic conclusion regarding a climate-conflict link, as does the Africa chapter, while a methods chapter on ‘Detection and attribution’ dismisses the climate-change-to-violence link. The entire report is suffused with terms like ‘may’, ‘has the potential to’, and other formulations without any indication of a level of probability. Overall, the Fifth Assessment Report of the IPCC does not support the view that climate change is an important threat to the long-term waning of war. Still, the report opens up for conflicting interpretations and overly alarmist media translations.

1. “The IPCC, human security, and the climate-conflict nexus” (with Nils Petter Gleditsch) in M. Redcliff & M. Grasso (eds) Handbook on Climate Change and Human Security. Edward Elgar.



5. “Fight the youth: Youth bulges and state repression”American Journal of Political Science (with Christian Davenport)

It is generally acknowledged that large youth cohorts or “youth bulges” make countries more susceptible to anti-state political violence. Thus we assume that governments are forewarned about the political demographic threat that a youth bulge represents to the status quo and will attempt to preempt behavioral challenges by engaging in repression.  A statistical analysis of the relationship between youth bulges and state repression from 1976-2000 confirms our expectation. Controlling for factors known to be associated with coercive state action, we find that governments facing a youth bulge are more repressive than other states.  This relationship holds when controlling for, and running interactions with, levels of actual protest behavior. Youth bulges and other elements that may matter for preemptive state strategies should therefore be included in future empirical models of state repression.

4. “Gender Gap or Gender Bias in Peace Research? Publication Patterns and Citation Rates for Journal of Peace Research, 1983–2008” International Studies Perspectives (with Gudrun Østby, Håvard Strand, Nils Petter Gleditsch)

Many studies report lower academic productivity among women. But are women less likely to get their research published in the first place? The evidence for potential gender bias in publication and impact is mixed. This article examines the gender dimension of scientific publication in international relations (IR) based on submission data for Journal of Peace Research for the period 1983–2008. It examines the gender gap in submissions and explores whether the perceived merit of a research paper is affected by the gender of the authors and reviewers. It also investigates whether the gender of the first author influences citation counts. The data show a clear but declining gender gap. They do not indicate any significant gender bias in publication success or citations.

3. “Sexual Exploitation and Abuse by Peacekeepers: Understanding Variation”International Interactions (with Siri Aas Rustad)

While the literature on peacekeeping has mostly focused on whether peacekeeping actually keeps the peace, few studies have systematically addressed the question of what explains variations in unintended consequences of peacekeeping, such as sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA). This study presents the SEAP data, a new dataset covering the 36 international peacekeeping missions by the UN, NATO, ECOWAS and the African Union, active in the years 1999-2010. Using this dataset, it also presents the first statistical study that explores the issue of what can account for variations in reported SEA across peacekeeping operations. The systematic analysis of this data indicates that SEA was more frequently reported in situations with lower levels of battle-related deaths, in larger operations, in more recent operations, the less developed the country hosting the mission, and in operations where the  conflict involved high levels of sexual violence. Our discussion and conclusion highlights data restrictions, and identifies key challenges for future research.
2. “Seksualisert vold i krig og konflikt” (“Sexualized violence in war and conflict”) (with Lars Morten Bjørkholt) in A. Scjølset (red.) Gender i Forsvaret. Fra Teori til praksis. Oslo: Abstrakt Forlag.
1. “Seksuell utnyttelse og overgrep i internasjonale operasjoner” (“Sexual exploitation and Abuse in International Operations”) (with Lars Morten Bjørkholt) in A. Scjølset (red.) Gender i Forsvaret. Fra Teori til praksis. Oslo: Abstrakt Forlag.

2011.    “Devil in the Demography? Religion, Identity, and War in Cote d’Ivoire”, in Jack Goldstone,  Monica Toft & Eric Kaufmann (eds.). Political Demography: Interests, Conflict and Institutions. Oxford University Press/Palgrave-MacMillan, 2010.

2009.    “Regional Inequalities and Civil Conflict in Sub-Saharan Africa”. (with Gudrun Østby and Jan Ketil Rød). International Studies Quarterly 53: 301–324.

2009.   “Armut und die Rekrutierung von Kindersoldaten: Eine disaggregierte Studie der afrikanischen Regionen.” [Regional Poverty and Child Soldier Recruitment: A Disaggregated Study of African Regions] (with Vera Achvarina, Gudrun Østby and Siri Aas Rustad). Politische Vierteljahresschrift. Special Issue (43).

2009.  “Climate Change and Conflict: A Critical Overview” (with Nils Petter Gleditsch). Die Friedens-Warte: Journal of International Peace and Organization, Special Issue on Climate Change and Armed Conflict 84(2): 11–28.

2007.   “Islam’s Bloody Innards? Religion and Political Terror, 1980–2000” (with Indra de Soysa). International Studies Quarterly 51(4): 927–943.

2007.    “Climate Change and Conflict” (with Nils Petter Gleditsch). Political Geography 26(6): 627–638.

2003.    “Afghanistan under den kalde krigen” [Afghanistan during the Cold War] (with Helga M., Binningsbø, Robert Ekle, and Torbjørn Knutsen), in Torbjørn Knutsen (ed.) Blodspor. Om bakgrunnen til 11. september [Traces of Blood. The Background to 11 September]. Oslo: Cappelen.


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