Projects | Peace Studies


Current Research Projects

Colombia Projects

Castleberry Peace Institute Director James Meernik, and PSCI faculty Jacqueline Demeritt, Kimi King and Diego Esparza are involved in several long-term research projects with partners in Medellin, Colombia. They work with colleagues from EAFIT University (Administration and Finance School and Technology Institute), the Pontifical Bolivarian University, as well as other organizations of victims and former combatants in Medellin, Colombia to study topics related to peacebuilding and transitiional justice. CPI co-hosted a conference on peace and justice in Colombia in October, 2017 in Medellin, Colombia that brought together experts from around the world who discussed the prospects for peace and justice in Colombia in light of the recent peace agreement between the Colombian government and the FARC. Many of the conference papers became part of our volume, As War Ends, edited by James Meernik, Jacqueline Demeritt and Mauricio Uribe (EAFIT University). CPI has also sponsored visits to Medellin by faculty and students, hosted a Fulbright Scholar in Fall, 2022 and regularly holds talks by faculty, students and guest speakers. Current research projects include:

The Reintegration of Former Combatants. Professor Meernik and partners at Aulas de Paz, a Colombian NGO and EAFIT University administered a survey to nearly 300 former combatants from the rightist paramilitary forces and the leftist rebels of the former FARC-EP (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, People's Army). We are using a social capital model to predict reintegration success and are working on a book-legnth project. There are opportunities to conduct research on all aspects of reintegration of former combatants in Colombia, as well as in Northern Ireland and Northeast India.

Demobilization and Peace Processes with Current Combatants. Professor Meernik and partners at Aulas de Paz, a Colombian NGO and EAFIT University are also conducting a survey of current members of criminal gangs and armed organizations in the city of Medellin and the surrounding region, hisotirclaly one of the most violence prone areas of Colombia. The goal is to identify strategies for keeping young people from joining armed organizations, how current gang members might be demobilized and what resources will governments need to demobilize and reintegrate former combatants and gang members.

Why People Commit Human Rights Abuses. Professors Demeritt and Meernik are leading this effort which is at the beginning stages. The project is a collaboration with the Colombian Reconciliation Committee, which is an NGO of former Colombian military officers who were accused of human rights abuses during the Colombian civil war. We are surveying a pilot sample of these individual to learn about their efforts at addressing the past, and what forces influenced their behaviors.

Altavista Project. A project investigating how to reduce violence, improve economic prospects and digitize memories from the conflict. Our student group is working with the Altavista community to raise funds for a beautification project to paint murals around the community, while we are also digitizing their historical artefacts and documents. You may learn more about this effort at Digitization of Historical Memories in Altavista

Mothers of the Candelaria. A project in support of the Mothers group, which seeks to learn what happened to the many individuals who were "disappeared" during the Colombian violence. Currently, our team is working on a major project to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the founding of the organization and to increase efforts to find out what happened to the missing before it is too late.

The Women's Market. A project to learn about how former combatants, in particular former Female FARC combatants can achieve a level of prosperity and security to make their reintegration a success.

Incidence of Violence in Colombia. Faculty are working on several projects analyzing why violence occurs, who is targetted and how does this violence affect voting. There are many opportunities for students to become involved in this research.

Peace and Gender. Faculty are analyzing differences of opinion between men and women about the peace and reconciliation processes in Colombia.

Conflict Management and Peacekeeping

Michael Greig is working on a series of projects seeking to better understand how outside parties can most effectively end the violence of interstate and civil wars. This work focuses upon the conditions and policy choices that make international mediation and peacekeeping missions most likely to be successful.

Correlates of War National Material Capabilities Project
Andres Enterline and Michael Greig direct the COW National Material Capabilities project, maintaining the data set that is the most widely used academic resource for measuring the power capabilities of nation-states and the changes in those capabilities over time (dating back to 1816).

International Studies and Undergraduate Education
Marijke Breuning and John Ishiyama have conducted a series of projects on international studies and the undergraduate political science curriculum, with a particular focus on the internationalization of political science education.

Transnational Insurgencies and the Escalation of Regional Conflict
Idean Salehyan's project explores how transnational militant groups affect regional relations. Many modern insurgencies, such as those in Afghanistan, Sudan, and Colombia, span national boundaries, threatening to spark conflicts between neighboring governments. This research will help to uncover patterns in the escalation of cross-border militancy, and will help develop cooperative strategies for preventing violence. Partial support came from the Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College.

Previous Research Projects

Transitional Justice: Victims, Sentencing, and the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia
Kimi King and James Meernik have a series of research projects on the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY). Among these studies is one on the role of victim testimony on sentencing in ICTY war crimes, including especially sexual violence crimes.

Transitional Justice: An International Criminal Tribunals Database
James Meernik and Kimi King are seeking funding to develop a comprehensive database on the eight major international tribunals that have been established since World War II to prosecute individuals accused of war crimes, genocides and other crimes against humanity. This project will be an international resource for research on transitional justice across different time periods and different conflicts.

Imposed Polity Project
Andrew Enterline and Michael Greig have embarked on a major project that involves building a data set on regimes that were imposed in a nation by an external power. The research has resulted in a series of publications (including three in Foreign Policy) on what conditions predict the success or failure of externally imposed democracies, their ability to avoid civil and interstate conflict. Included are published studies of the prospects for democracy and stability in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

Gender, Foreign Policy, and Development Cooperation
Marijke Breuning is working on a research project that investigates the impact of women in foreign policy making. The study focuses in particular on women's role in policy making regarding the developing world. As part of this project, she is building a cross-national data set on women's participation in the executive branch of government.

Orphans and Political Instability
Marijke Breuning and John Ishiyama are investigating the impact of growing orphan populations, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, on the stability of the societies in which these orphans live. Little has been written about the security implications of growing orphan populations.

Political Parties, Political Institutions, Ethnic Conflict and Democratic Consolidation
John Ishiyama has long been working on a series of projects that relate to how political parties and political institutions (electoral systems, presidentialism versus parliamentarism, etc.) affect ethnic conflict and democratic consolidation in the Former Soviet Union and in Africa. His current project is on whether ethnic parties contribute to (or detract from) ethnic conflict and political strife.

Political Parties and Peace Duration
John Ishiyama and Anna Batta are currently working on a project that investigates the impact political party organizations have on peace duration after the end of civil wars.

Foreign Aid and Democratic Consolidation
Marijke Breuning and John Ishiyama have been working on a series of projects that examine the relationship between foreign aid provision, democratic consolidation and political stability