Violent conflicts evolve in multiple stages. Academic and policy oriented conflict research seeks to identify indicators of conflict escalation and assess their relative weight in models of conflict analysis. Conflict scholarship suggests that structural factors condition the initial conflict dynamic. Alternatively, dynamic factors are highlighted as basic in times of crisis. This paper draws a distinction between the concepts of “long term structural risk assessment”, and “short term early warning”. It is argued here that conceptual clarity improves the predictive power of conflict analyses. By reviewing databases hosted at the Center for International Development and Conflict Management at the University of Maryland this paper introduces four models predicting conflict escalation. Three of the models are concerned with structural crisis factors, while one suggests dynamic factors are present during the escalation of violence. The paper reviews the methodologies of indicator development used within these models.
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