Civil wars transition through three phases: onset, duration, and peace. Collier and Hoeffel have examined factors that may lead to the onset of conflict such as “greed and grievance” (2004). Greed refers to the material resources (e.g., finance, weapons, and human capital) that enable a rebel army to stage a rebellion. Grievances are perceived wrongs, i.e. “inter-group hatred, political exclusion, and vengeance” that might motivate a group to stage a rebellion (Collier and Hoeffel 2004, 575). Collier found that if a civil war is materially feasible it will occur even in the absence of “special inducements in terms of motivation” (Collier, Hoeffel and Rohmer 2009, 25). This supports the result of Collier’s previous two papers on the topic (Collier and Hoeffel 2004, 1998).
One factor that enables conflict is the presence of “lootable” resources that rebels can use to fund their insurgency, such as alluvial gems and drugs (Collier and Hoeffel 1998, 2004; Ross 2004a). Civil wars generally take place in poor countries, and the presence of lootable resources would enable a rebel group to fund their army to a size sufficient to challenge the government (between 500 and 5,000 members) (Collier et al. 2009).