Team’s Peace Project Focuses on Ending Deadliest Type of War

Editors’ Note: This feature appears as it was published in the summer 2019 edition of UT Dallas Magazine. Titles or faculty members listed may have changed since that time.
Dr. Paul Diehl, Ashbel Smith Professor of political science


A new federally funded research project at UT Dallas aims to identify the most effective strategies for ending the deadliest type of war: civil conflicts that involve other countries.
Dr. Paul Diehl, Ashbel Smith Professor of political science in the School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences, recently received a grant from the U.S. Institute of Peace to study methods for reducing violence in internationalized civil wars, such as those in Yemen, Syria and Ukraine.
Interventions in these conflicts often focus on either the civil or the international aspects of conflict, Diehl said. He added that research rarely addresses the dual challenges of internationalized civil wars. The new project, which also involves researchers from the University of Notre Dame and the University of Georgia, aims to understand how to manage both at the same time.
“We’d like to identify pathways to transform hostile relations into peaceful ones,” said Diehl, who is also associate provost and director of the Center for Teaching and Learning.
Internationalized civil conflicts have the most fatalities, last the longest and are the most difficult to resolve because of the challenges involved in reducing violence within a nation as well as between rival states, Diehl said. Civil conflicts often spill over into other states with refugees flowing across borders and other countries taking sides. Diehl said only 13% of efforts to reach compromises are successful.
The U.S. Institute of Peace, created by Congress in 1984, is dedicated to the proposition that a world without violent conflict is possible, practical and essential for global security.