Professor of Peace and Conflict Research; Deputy Head of Department.
My research is focused on understanding civil war dynamics, in particular violence against civilians, and how interventions by the international community influence such processes. I'm heading the projects Ending Atrocities (Wallenberg Academy Fellow) and The Politics of Protection (VR Consolidator grant).
Areas of expertise: violence against civilians; UN peacekeeping; protection of civilians; responses to atrocities
I am a professor of peace and conflict research. Most of my research revolves around two central themes: first, understanding violence against civilians and the dynamics of civil war violence; second, the response by the international community and the impact of various forms of interventions in addressing such violence.
I got my PhD in Peace and Conflict Research from Uppsala University in 2008 (docent in 2013; professor in 2021). After that, I spent one year as a research fellow at the Swedish Institute of International Affairs, and two years as a researcher at the Swedish National Defence College. Since 2011, I am back at Uppsala University. As of January 2018, I serve as the Deputy Head of Department.
In 2014 I was appointed Wallenberg Academy Fellow, which has allowed me to build a research team around the theme of international intervention and protection of civilians. I have also developed a master-level course on this topic. Since 2019, I am the holder of a Consolidator grant from the Swedish Research Council to conduct research on what factors determine international responses to atrocities.
I serve on the editorial boards of three journals: Journal of Conflict Resolution, International Peacekeeping, and International Studies Quarterly. I have formerly been a member of the council of the Peace Science Society (International) and the European Peace Science Society steering committee. Between 2015 and 2017 I served on the Swedish Research Council review panel for political science, peace and conflict, and media and communication; in 2017, I was the chair of the panel.
Here I try to summarize the most important themes in my research, focusing primarily on recent and ongoing work. For my complete list of publications, see separate heading below.
Most of my current work revolves around the question of how international interventions influence the violence dynamics in civil wars, and in particular with regards to the protection of civilians. One central question is whether peacekeeping works, and under what conditions the UN can improve the security for the civilian population. Together with Jacob Kathman and Megan Shannon, I have argued that the impact of peacekeeping should be conceptualized and measured as the relative effectiveness in reducing violence – and that effectiveness depends on the capacity and constitution of peacekeeping missions. Our previous work has been published in American Political Science Review and American Journal of Political Science, and in 2019 our book Peacekeeping in the Midst of War was published with Oxford University Press (winner of APSA Conflict Processes Best Book Award 2020). A number of articles also address variations of this question. Together with Hanne Fjelde and Desirée Nilsson, I have explored the local effects of peacekeeping (in International Organization). This work makes use of a new dataset on the location of peacekeeping deployments in Africa that the three of us collected together with Deniz Cil (The Geo-PKO dataset, forthcoming in Journal of Peace Research). Karin Johansson and I have an article in Journal of Conflict Resolution that analyses the impact of peacekeeping on the prevalence of wartime sexual violence. Together with Håvard Hegre and Håvard Mokleiv Nygård, I have also made use of simulations in evaluating the comprehensive effect of peacekeeping policies (in Journal of Politics). One important challenge that peacekeepers face is violent attacks by various non-state groups; our article in International Studies Quarterly explores this issue (with Hanne Fjelde and Sara Lindberg Bromley).
I have a few working papers that explores further dimensions of intervention and violence. First, Sabine Otto and I explore the temporal dynamics of peacekeeping deployments in relation to civil war violence. Second, Corinne Bara and I present new data to compare UN and non-UN peacekeeping operations and their impact on violence. Third, Angela Muvumba Sellström and I ask under what conditions diplomatic interventions can shape the behaviour of rebel groups and persuade them to limit the use of violence against civilians. Fourth, Sara Lindberg Bromley and I examine the impact of biased interventions on the patterns of collective violence in civil war.
A new project focuses on the determinants of interventions and aims to explains when, why, and how the international community responds to atrocities against civilians. This builds partly on previous work I have done exploring the impact of the protection norm on the deployment of peacekeeping operations in response to one-sided violence against civilians (Journal of Peace Research) and the impact of the gendered protection agenda on peacekeeping operations in reaction to sexual violence (in Global Responsibility to Protect with Karin Johansson). Angela Muvumba Sellström and I have also mapped the cross-cutting agendas of protection of civilians on the one hand, and the women, peace, and security agenda on the other (in The Oxford Handbook of Women, Peace, and Security).
My PhD dissertation engaged with the question why actors target civilians (e.g. exploring the role of battle losses in triggering violence, and a closer study of the strategic logic of the violence perpetrated by Renamo). Some of my work has continued along this path. Hanne Fjelde and I suggest that violence is used as a strategy for weakening the enemy, facilitated by explicit ethnic ties between the civilian population and warring actors (in Journal of Conflict Resolution). I have recently been part of a larger data collection effort in coding the ethnic identity of victim groups of one-sided violence (The Ethnic One-sided Violence dataset, forthcoming).
Current research projects:
- The Politics of Protection: Explaining International Responses to Atrocities (project leader Lisa Hultman)
- Ending Atrocities: Third-Party Interventions into Civil Wars (project leader Lisa Hultman)
- ViEWS (project leader Håvard Hegre)
Recently completed projects:
- Protection of Civilians: UN Peacekeeping Strategies and Their Effectiveness (project leader Lisa Hultman)
- Threatening Ties: Understanding Wartime Civilian Targeting along Ethnic Lines (project leader Hanne Fjelde)
Links to blog posts and popularized work:
- Hanne Fjelde, Lisa Hultman, and Desirée Nilsson. “The UN’s Defining Challenge: Peacekeeping and Protection of Civilians” Political Violence at a Glance, 24 October 2018.
- Hegre, Håvard, Lisa Hultman, and Håvard Mokleiv Nygård. “U.N. Peacekeeping Really Can Be Effective. Here is How We Tabulated This.” Monkey Cage, Washington Post, 28 June 2018.
- Brosché, Johan et al. “9 punkter för global fred.” Uppsala Nya Tidning, 25 October 2015.
- Hegre, Håvard, Lisa Hultman, and Håvard Mokleiv Nygård. 2015. “Peacekeeping Works”. PRIO Conflict Trends 01/2015.
- Fjelde Hanne and Lisa Hultman. “Ethnicity and Collective Targeting in Civil Wars.” Guest post at Political Violence at a Glance, 13 April 2015.
- Hultman, Lisa. “Satsa på FN:s fredsbevarande operationer.” Post on web magazine Mänsklig säkerhet, 28 Sept 2015.
- Hultman, Lisa. “Robust Peacekeeping: A Desirable Development?”, E-International Relations, 2 Sept 2014.
- Hultman, Lisa Jacob Kathman and Megan Shannon. “UN Peacekeeping and Violence in Civil Wars”, guest post on the Early Warning Project Blog, 13 June 2014.
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