Visualizing Armed Groups: The Democratic Republic of the Congo’s M23 in Focus

By Cathy Nangini, Mainak Jas, Hugo L. Fernandes, Robert Muggah
February 2014

New information technologies can help unpack the relationships and tendencies that persist in complex networks. We present an interactive, web-based visualization that captures interlocking networks related to the Mouvement du 23 Mars (M23) rebel group in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to demonstrate the utility of visually summarizing relationships in a multi-dimensional dataset. We draw exclusively from the findings the UN Group of Governmental Experts report S/2012/843 documenting the procurement of weapons and ammunition by the M23 network. The visualization was built using a hierarchical edge bundling algorithm (Holten 2006) implemented in Data-Driven Documents (d3) (Bostock 2011), an open-source JavaScript-based library for interactive web visualizations. We contend that such visualizations can provide improved understanding of complex social networks both within and beyond the confines of war.


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