Date of Submission

Summer 7-23-2021

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in International Conflict Management (Ph.D. INCM)

Committee Chair/First Advisor

Dr. Marcus Marktanner

Committee Member

Dr. Joseph Bock

Committee Member

Dr. Luc Noiset


Progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) has been uneven across and within countries - particularly in Africa, least developed countries, and low-income countries. The COVID-19 pandemic has threatened to reverse much of the progress made towards achieving the SDGs, especially SDG 3, which aims to “ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages”.

The tendency for disease, underdevelopment, and conflict to occur concomitantly suggests potential causal mechanisms linking them. This study attempts to address two pieces of the puzzle: the causal effect of disease on underdevelopment and the impact of development on conflict risk. Focusing on the sub-Saharan Africa region and informed by methodologies employed in conflict, development, and global health research, subnational analyses are conducted and exogenous instruments are used to address issues of simultaneity and reverse causality. As conflict takes many forms outside of civil war, this study focuses on smaller-scale social conflicts including riots, protests, and communal conflict.

Findings suggest that disease exerts a negative influence on development while urbanization and governance positively impact development. Development played a significant role in explaining conflict, along with recent social conflict and population. Regions located in countries recently experiencing civil war were neither more nor less likely to experience social conflict.

This study contributes to the evidence base positioning health as a key to development and peace. The integrated approach reflects not only the complex nature of conflict, but the potential for collaborative efforts among disciplines to inform policies for conflict prevention and alleviation.