Capturing Group Alignments: The History of Armed Actors Dataset (HAAD)
Recent research on the study of armed actors has generated important new insights into the existence, behavior, and violent consequences of armed actors in civil wars. However, the lack of suitable information on actor relationships means that studies studies have been forced to assume that armed groups are either pro-government or anti-government, and remain that way for the length of their existence. Both assumptions severely limit our understanding of the armed actors themselves, as well as the violent dynamics they produce. This paper introduces the History of Armed Actors Dataset (HAAD), which provides detailed information on all armed groups and their fluctuating alignment with the state, covering the time period between 1989 and 2007. HAAD identifies when armed groups fight with or against the government, and when they lack relationships with the government altogether. It further provides information on all changes in group alignments and documents when and how these occurred. To this end, armed groups are tracked and coded throughout their entire lifespan, from formation to termination. We demonstrate the prevalence of alignment changes and showcase how this allows researchers to pursue original research on the drivers, dynamics, and outcomes of civil conflicts.