Research Projects and Faculty Expertise | Castleberry Peace Institute

Research Projects and Faculty Expertise

Peace and Justice in Colombia

The Castleberry Peace Institute and faculty members James Meernik, David Mason, Jacqueline Demeritt, and Diego Esparza are partnering with colleagues from EAFIT University (Administration and Finance School and Technology Institute), the Pontifical Bolivarian University, the Museum of Memory (Museo Casa de la Memoria) in Medellin, Colombia to study the impact of the peace agreement the Colombian government recently signed with the largest of the guerilla armies -- the FARC, or The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. We recently 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. We discussed how our knowledge of peace processes and justice after conflict have helped us understand other post conflict environments, and applied this knowledge to the Colombian case. This conference is just the beginning of an ongoing partnership with our Colombian colleagues that also involves the development of research projects, a study abroad experience for students and the publication of our conference proceedings.

Issue Correlates of War (ICOW)

Led by Dr. Paul Hensel and funded by the National Science Foundation, the US Agency for International Development and the Department of Defense's prestigious Minerva grant program ICOW is collecting data on territorial, maritime, and river conflicts around the world over the past two centuries. The project has already identified over one thousand disagreements and is studying what makes each one valuable to the involved countries and how these countries have managed their disagreements. ICOW focuses on conflicts that arise over competing territorial claims between two or more nations, conflicts that have the risk of escalating to war. Hensel has been building and updating this data set, which identifies "militarized interstate disputes" (MIDs) over such issues as border disputes, river and sea boundaries. ICOW then codes events that occur between each pair of nations in the dispute that could escalate to war. The most recent addition to ICOW has been the addition of identity claims - where two nations in a MID have some ethnic, religious, or other identity-based link that could make the risk of war greater or lesser in the absence of that identity issue. One example would be MIDs between the People's Republic of China and Taiwan over claims in the South China Sea, where the conflict between the two nations is affected by shared ethnic identities between their respective populations. ICOW project data sets have already been used by dozens of scholars studying international conflict and conflict management, shedding light on the situations where armed conflict is most likely as well as the most effective ways that these situations can be managed or settled peacefully.

REUNational Science Foundation, Research Experience for Undergraduates

The UNT National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates (NSF-REU) program on Civil Conflict Management and Peace Science is funded with grant of $358,000.00 for the period 2017-2020 (now in its fourth grant cycle since 2010). The program is the only political science NSF-REU site in the country, and is dedicated entirely to issues related to Comparative Politics, International Relations, and Peace Science. The aim of this program is to provide research experiences for undergraduate students from all majors with an introduction to research in the broad area of civil conflict management and peace science. This eight week, in-residence program at the UNT campus in Denton, Texas, includes workshops on theory building and Geographic Information System (GIS), research design and analysis, research ethics, and graduate school preparation. Further the program includes opportunities to present participant research results at local and national conferences. Dr. John Ishiyama is Director of the program.

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 Justice
Professors Kimi King and James Meernik have developed a series of research projects on the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, the International Criminal Court and other institutions of transitional justice throughout the world. Professor King and Meernik's research has focused on reconciliation after conflict, judicial decision making and sentencing decisions at the tribunals, crimes of sexual violence and gender issues, and the development of the first systematic database on the experiences and opinions of 300 witnesses who testified before the ICTY. Their book, The Witness Experience was recently published by Cambridge University Press. Professors King and Meernik are currently researching witnesses' views on the nature of international justice, consequences of witness tesimony and the development of a database on the decisions of the Bosnian War Crimes Chamber..

FACULTY EXPERTISE

Professor Glen Biglaiser is a professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of North Texas. His areas of specialization include comparative politics, Latin American politics, and economic and political issues in the developing world. His research falls into the following areas: 1) the effects of political institutions (e.g., respect for the rule of law and property rights protection) on foreign direct investment (FDI), portfolio investment, and sovereign bond ratings; 2) the influence (and success) of economic sanctions on FDI; and 3) the impact of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on expropriation, FDI, and the shaping of economic policies in borrower nations. His current research projects investigate issues including: 1) the effects of the threat or imposition of economic sanctions on stock market prices in targeted countries; 2) the impact of different foreign firm modes of entry on labor rights; 3) the effects of bond ratings and/or IMF programs on social spending; 4) the role of conflict and mediation in U.S. humanitarian aid; and 5) the impact of the IMF on terrorism in the developing world.

Professor Marijke Breuning's research employs role theory, which was originally developed in sociology and uses metaphors derived from the theatre. Rather than thinking in terms of "big powers" and "small states," role theory recognizes that decision makers actively shape the state's role(s) in international affairs. She investigates the tension between the "great power" aspirations of Russia and China and the regional power aspirations of Ethiopia, on the one hand, and their role as sending countries in international child adoption on the other. The latter role is widely perceived by decision makers as dissonant with the state's power aspirations. Decision makers often worry that participation in intercountry adoption detracts from their power aspirations. Professor Breuning's study focuses on when, why, and how the conflict between each state's power aspirations and its role as a sending country became an important political problem, as well as how decision makers resolved it. She shows that decision makers are deeply concerned about their international image, although the economic benefits derived from participation in intercountry adoption matter as well. The best interests of children, on the other hand, are less prominent in decision making.

Professor Diego Esparza is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of North Texas. His research focuses on police, intelligence, civil-military relations, and Latin American politics. Dr. Esparza is developing a book manuscript comparing the evolution of police in Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and the United States. The focus of this work investigates the correlation between organizational structures within each police system and their malfeasant practices. He currently has research projects analyzing public opinion of the armed forces and crime victimization under review. His work has been published in Comparative Political Studies and the Annual Review of Political and Military Sociology.

Professor Ko Maeda's research interests center on political institutions of democratic countries. One of the questions he asks in his research is how/why/when democratic political systems are terminated by, for example, military coups. In his 2010 Journal of Politics article, he demonstrated that military coups' chances are strongly linked with economic conditions and that presidential systems are more likely than parliamentary systems to experience a termination initiated by a democratically elected political leader. In his 2016 article published in Democratization, he showed that newly democratized countries initially experience a honeymoon period with low termination risks but the risks then increase until the eighth year after democratization before going down afterwards.

Professor Idean Salehyan is the Director of the Social Conflict Analysis Database (SCAD) project which tracks social and political unrest in Africa and Latin America. Using SCAD, he is working on a project which examines decisions by governments to repress their citizens, and another project that looks at the determinants of election-related violence. In previous research, he has used SCAD to look at how environmental factors contribute to social conflict and the tactical choices of dissident organizations. Dr. Salehyan is also editing a special issue of the journal, Journal of Peace Research, on the topic of Forced Migration and Conflict, which will appear in print in 2019. This special issue brings together researchers from the United States, Switzerland, Colombia, the UK, Norway, and
Turkey to shed light on the nexus between refugee flows and conflict processes.

Professor Lee Demetrius Walker is associate professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of North Texas. His research interests include comparative judicial politics, Latin American politics, comparative democratization, comparative political behavior and political methodology. His current research includes the following projects. First, he is involved in several projects that examine factors that influence judicial decision making in Latin America and the United States. These projects include: 1) a project that examines how judicial legitimacy and judicial preference on the particular political question affect the court's strategic decision making; 2) a project that examines how judges' personal motivations affect judicial decision making in U.S. immigration cases; and 3) a project that examines the applicability of legal model of judicial decision making in Central America before, during and after regime change. Second, he is involved in a co-authored project that examines the effects of actual protest events on individual-level attitudes toward contentious and conventional political behavior. Third, using an original dataset of El Salvadoran habeas-corpus cases from 1980-1992, he is working with a group of co-authors to examine how courts in times of civil war adjust their approach to treatment of women as participants in the justice system.

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