CAMEO Event Data Codebook

CAMEO -- Conflict and Mediation Event Observations -- is the coding scheme we developed in conjunction with our research on third-party mediation. CAMEO has several new features not found in the WEIS system we have used in our earlier work:

  • The coding scheme is optimized for the study of mediation and contains a number of tertiary sub-categories specific to mediation
  • We have substantially expanded the categories for "use of force" and can therefore make much finer distinctions between reported levels of violence
  • We have combined a number of WEIS categories that, in our experience, cannot be reliably differentiated in machine coding.
  • We have developed a systematic heirarchical coding scheme for dealing with substate actors.
  • We have developed a very extensive taxonomy for religious groups and ethnic groups

HTML and pdf versions of the CAMEO codebook are posted below. Our 2002 International Studies Association paper compares the CAMEO and WEIS event coding frameworks; Our 2008 International Studies Association paper discusses the CAMEO actor coding framework in detail.

Version 1.1b3, March 2012 : This is the most recent version and includes the CAMEORCS religious group coding framework for approximately 1,500 religions, the ethnic coding taxonomy with about 650 ethnic group codes, and considerable editorial changes in the actor coding ontology. It has not been fully implemented in the dictionaries. Documentation and an Excel file detailing the ethnic coding framework are available here

Version 0.9b6, July 2009 : This is the version used in the CAMEO-based ICEWS research and most of the work we have done since about 2005. The older and slightly different version 0.9b5 (Sept 2007) is available here .

A CAMEO scale that is roughly equivalent to the Goldstein scale for the WEIS event coding scheme.


Our development of CAMEO follows the work of PANDA Project and its associates in developing IDEA ("Integrated Data for Events Analysis": We have borrowed some innovations from IDEA -- for example the use of tertiary (4-digit) coding categories and a web-based codebook with examples (their web site is nicer...) -- but there are several key differences between the systems:

  • IDEA maintains backwards compatibility with WEIS and several other event coding schemes. CAMEO does not: it combines WEIS categories that cannot be reliably distinguished in automated coding.
  • IDEA encompasses a much broader range of behaviors than CAMEO. CAMEO is oriented toward inter-state behavior.
  • The tertiary categories for IDEA are generally oriented towards the study of citizen direct action (for example strikes and protests), whereas the categories in CAMEO are oriented towards the study of third-party mediation in international and inter-ethnic conflict.

We regard these two coding systems as complementary rather than competitive, and would urge any researchers considering event data analysis to consider their relative merits. More generally, we regard both CAMEO and IDEA as examples of how automated coding enables researchers to develop coding systems that are sensitive to specific theoretical issues, rather than being forced to use the "one size fits all" approach that was necessary when event data could only be generated by human coding. Let a thousand flowers bloom.

Caveat: keep in mind that six months may pass between the time you plant the seed and you see the flower...
- Albert Schweitzer quote