By Justin Conrad, Beth Elise Whitaker, James Igoe Walsh
Minerva researchers Justin Conrad, Beth Elise Whitaker, and James Igoe Walsh (University of North Carolina - Charlotte) have developed the first-ever Rebel Contraband Dataset as part of their Minerva-funded research. The dataset provides new and regularly updated annual data on rebel activities and control of natural resources and other illicit sources of income that support those activities, improving capacity to identify and predict insurgency onset, location, and the capacity of existing and emerging insurgent groups. The data capture how rebel groups finance their activities through control of natural resources and criminal activities such as extortion, smuggling, and piracy, and how their methods of control affect the behavior of combatants, civilian support, and rebel-government negotiations. Their research is also generating innovative methods to integrate civil conflict data with the Rebel Contraband Dataset to enable new models depicting the relationship between resource control and conflict.