The ICOW Identity Claims Data Set

The identity claims data set follows the general guidelines on the ICOW home page.

An identity claim is defined as explicit contention between two or more nation-states over the status of an ethnic group that is located in both states. More specifically, official government representatives of the challenger state (i.e., individuals who are authorized to make or state foreign policy positions for their government) must make explicit claims or demands regarding the treatment or status of their ethnic kin in the target state.

Please note that the ICOW Project and its directors do not take or endorse official positions on any identity claims. Our goal is to identify cases where nation-states have disagreed over specific issues in the modern era, as well as measuring what made those issues valuable to them and studying how they chose to manage or settle those issues. Inclusion/exclusion of specific cases, and coding of details related to those cases, follows strict guidelines presented in the project's coding manuals (which are available below).

Project Description

From the Minerva Initiative description of funded projects:

Identity Claims: Expanding the Issue Correlates of War (ICOW) Dataset

"States have historically and contemporaneously used culture-based identity claims -- i.e., explicit demands by one government's officials on behalf of their co-ethnic kinsmen, which often come with offers of economic, military, or political support to these kinsmen -- to project their power into the internal affairs of other states or throughout a region. Our project addresses four broad questions.

This project will gather data on identity claims around the world since World War II to expand the researchers' existing ICOW -- a robust and well-recognized dataset on international conflicts."

Measuring Claim Salience

We will post more details about the measurement of identity claim salience here. Salience will be measured in a manner that is similar to the ICOW territorial, river, and maritime claims data sets, which each use a 0-12 index to measure the salience of each claim.

Project Participants

Current Status

As data collection proceeds, we will post updates here. The proposal was to collect the data for the entire world, 1946-2014, over the span of two academic years (9/1/2015-8/31/2017). This time period will likely be extended, though, as the first distribution of grant funds did not arrive until the spring of 2016.

Descriptive Details

As data collection proceeds, we will post descriptive statistics here, such as listing the number of claims in each region and the ways that these claims have been managed or ended.

Data Set References

The following article broadened the ICOW project beyond its original focus on territorial claims by introducing the river claims and maritime claims data sets, and presented a typology of contentious issues that mentioned identity claims as a possible avenue for future data collection:

We will include links to work introducing and using the identity claims data set here, once this work has been presented or published.

Download the Coding Manuals and Data

All ICOW data sets may be downloaded freely, but we request several professional courtesies from users:

Coding Manuals

The following links provide access to the coding manuals and other useful information:


Please note that this, like all ICOW data sets, uses the list of country codes in the COW interstate system. Please see that list for help in identifying which countries were involved in the events included in this data set, or for any questions about when each country was considered a sovereign, recognized state.

Contact Information

The ICOW Identity Claims data set is collected by a four-university team, and is maintained by Paul Hensel at the University of North Texas. Please contact him with any questions about the data set:
Last updated: 7 May 2016
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