Most of the world’s humanitarian aid goes to Muslim-majority communities, whether in the form of security support, development aid, or NGO assistance. But policymakers and the public at large do not fully understand conflict dynamics in the Muslim world.
Experts, likewise, have little knowledge about how Muslim governments use international legal norms to navigate conflict and postconflict challenges. To better inform and help shape US security and foreign policy, this project uses social science methods to analyze modern Muslim-majority state conflict behavior, to examine these states’ compliance with international humanitarian law (IHL), and to quantify the frequency of IHL language versus Shari’a versus in their constitutions.
This extensive dataset details all conflicts in which a Muslim state—defined by its membership in the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC)—was a party, from 1947-2014. It includes parties to the conflict, years of the conflict. The dataset is broken down by region and time period to allow for more detailed analysis.
Compliance with International Humanitarian Law
This dataset is a variation of the above MSACC Dataset: Conflict Behavior. It details all conflicts OIC Muslim states have been involved in between 1947 and 2014 and includes all violations of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) committed by each state party, if applicable. The purpose of this dataset is so that analysis based on compliance with IHL can accurately reflect each states’ participation in conflicts.
This analysis is based on the number of times a state was involved in a conflict, whereas the MSACC Dataset: Conflict Behavior is based on the number of conflicts that actually occurred. For example, while the conflict between Algeria and Morocco between 1963 and 1964 only occurred once—and is counted once for MSACC Dataset: Conflict Behavior—for the Compliance with IHL dataset, the conflict is counted once under Algeria (to account for Algeria’s compliance with IHL in the conflict) and once under Morocco (to account for Morocco’s compliance with IHL in the conflict).
Muslim Constitutions & Sharia Density
In order to test possible explanations for OIC Muslim states’ conflict behaviors and compliance with IHL, this dataset gathers the constitutions-in-force of all the states and identified language consistent with Sharia law and International Human Rights Law, as exemplified by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). The Sharia language in the constitutions was divided into six overarching categories, while the IHRL language followed the 30 articles of the UDHR.
This chart serves as the source of data for MSACC Dataset: Conflict Behavior and MSACC Dataset: Compliance with IHL. Included in the chart are the conflicts in which OIC states were belligerents, the party or non-state group OIC states fought against, a brief description of the conflict, and the violations of IHL that each state committed in the conflict, if applicable.
The Codebook accompanies the MSACC Dataset in its entirety, including MSACC Dataset: Conflict Behavior; MSACC Dataset: Compliance with IHL; MSACC Dataset: Muslim Constitutions and Sharia Density; and the MSACC Conflict Chart. It seeks to explain the methodological and analytical choices made by the research team in compiling the datasets.
Findings & Research Questions
- “Norms that Authorize or Restrain Political Violence: Comparing IHL Compliance Across Muslim-Majority States (1947-2015).” International Studies Association ISSS-ISAC 2015: Global Trends in War and Political Violence (Springfield, MA), Oct. 8-10, 2015. (Corri Zoli.)
- “Armed Conflict & Compliance in Muslim States, 1947–2014: Does Conflict Look Different Under IHL?” North Carolina Journal of International Law & Commercial Regulation, 40:3 (Spring 2015). (Corri Zoli, Emily Schneider, & Courtney Schuster.)
- “Ten Recommendations for Obama’s CVE Summit.” Foreign Policy, Feb. 18, 2015. (Corri Zoli & Emily Schneider.)
- “Why Iraq Must Stop Playing the Shari’a Card.” New America Foundation Weekly Wonk (Nov. 13, 2014). (Corri Zoli, Emily Schneider, & Alliya Anjum.)
- “How Islamic Is Pakistan’s Constitution?” Foreign Policy (May 15, 2014). (Corri Zoli & Emily Schnieder.)
- “What Egypt’s New Constitution Tells Us About Political Transition.” Fletcher Forum on World Affairs, Tufts University (March 12, 2014). (Corri Zoli & Courtney Schuster.)
- “Shari’a Strategy: Rule of Law Replacing the State.” Syria in Crisis, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (Jan. 4, 2014). (Corri Zoli & Emily Schneider.)
- “Shari’a Courts Move to the Battlefield: Jabhat al-Nusra Opens a Legal Front in the Syrian Civil War.” National Security Journal (Jan. 3, 2014). (Corri Zoli & Emily Schneider.)
- “Privacy in Muslim Constitutions & the Bilateral Security Agreement.” The Washington Post (Jan. 2, 2014). (Corri Zoli & Emily Schneider.)