CPSA/ISA-Canada section on International Relations
C15(a) - Contemporary Challenges in Armed Conflict II: Governance, Gender and Legitimacy
Date: Jun 6 | Time: 08:45am to 10:15am | Location: SWING 108
Chair/Président/Présidente : Leigh Spanner (University of Alberta)
Discussant/Commentateur/Commentatrice : Leigh Spanner (University of Alberta)
Session Abstract: Recent research has provided thicker and more nuanced understanding of civil war and armed conflict, most notably the role of armed groups. Opening up the black box of wartime violence, scholars have examined a range of armed group behaviours and relationships. This panel seeks to further advance our understanding of armed groups by tackling questions at the cutting edge of conflict research. From a diverse array of theoretical and methodological perspectives, the papers focus on armed groups and their interactions with the state, civilian constituencies and external interveners. Under what conditions do civilians support armed challengers after civil war and what becomes of armed groups as they navigate the fraught transition to electoral politics? How do armed groups perform authority and provide services in the zones they control, and how to civilians respond to rebel governance? How do global humanitarian agendas around gender influence local governance practices in wartime? Taken together, the contributions add to our understanding of rebel governance, political settlements, and the roles legitimacy plays in shaping politics during and after war.
The Transformation of Armed Groups into Political Parties: A Field of Inquiry: Simon Pierre Boulanger-Martel (Université de Montréal) Abstract: At the end of civil wars, some armed groups literally disappear from the political landscape while others become established political parties. For instance, the Unidad Revolucionaria Nacional Guatemalteca guerrilla in Guatemala and the Movimiento 19 de Abril in Colombia were both not able to sustain a meaningful electoral support after their demobilization in the 1990s. Other groups such as the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna in Sri Lanka, the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) and the Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional in Nicaragua managed to gain growing popularity in the post-war context. Such examples raise the question: How do armed groups establish themselves as viable alternatives to traditional elites in the wake of a civil war? Authors have underlined factors explaining why armed groups successfully transform into political parties. Yet, existing studies focus little on the dynamics after armed groups integrate politics and the strategies they mobilise to legitimise their power. The present paper thus explores different ways by which armed groups transform their power accumulated prior and during the war into power in the field of politics. The article draws on Bourdieu’s concept of political field and various examples from rebel-to-party transformation processes. It shows that constraints of the political field and the strategies mobilised by the new political parties shape the rebels’ ability to establish themselves as viable political elites. The article contributes to our understanding of rebel-to-party transformations and post-war political transitions more broadly by widening the application of Bourdieu’s concepts and pointing towards fruitful avenues for future research.
Rebel Governance, Civilian Support and Post-Conflict Institutionalization: Exploring Survey Evidence from Northern Côte d’Ivoire: Philip Martin (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), Giulia Piccolino (Loughborough University), Jeremy Speight (University of Alaska Fairbanks) Abstract: Civil wars often initiate political and social transformations that endure well after the conclusion of violent conflict, which constrain the ability of states to re-establish political order and extend government authority beyond urban areas. Armed movements that control territory for extended periods of time commonly displace local leaders and develop new systems of governance in communities under their control. Existing scholarship highlights how these wartime changes reinforce the authority of armed groups during and after civil war. However, less is known about why militarized local governance persists or not after the end of the conflict, and in particular, why civilians continue to support the authority of former armed groups after conflict termination. Under what conditions do ordinary citizens continue to support violent armed groups in the aftermath of a rebel occupation? When do they shift support to redeployed state institutions? What explains civilian choices in post-conflict contexts characterized by institutional plurality and uncertainty? We examine these questions using findings from a survey conducted in former rebel territory in northern Côte d'Ivoire, where the state administration was re-deployed after nine years under the Forces Nouvelles rebel occupation. We test hypotheses concerning the relationship between post-conflict civilian support for former armed groups and the efficacy and legitimacy of rebel’s wartime governance institutions, the use of violence by rebel occupiers, and the ethnic composition of local communities.
Governance Structure of Iran's Relations with Non-State Armed Groups: Mohsen Solhdoost (The University of Queensland) Abstract: External support to Non-State Armed Groups (NSAGs) began to emerge as a continued pattern of foreign policy in the final years of the Cold War. As US supported NSAGs to prevent spread of Soviet communism across the world, other states such as Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Israel adopted such foreign policy for other objectives. Yet, unintended consequences, known as blowback, have occurred following states’ explicit support of NSAGs to this day. Such undesirable outcomes range from NSAGs’ mild deviation from preferences of state sponsors to armed attacks that have directly hurt patron states. As demonstrated in my dataset, among the top sponsoring states (US, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Iran), Iran surprisingly has experienced no direct backfire. This begs the question: how has Iran minimised the risk of severe blowback with regards to its continued support of NSAGs?
In this paper I use Principal-Agent theory to analyse dynamics of relations between state sponsors and NSAGs. I argue that Iran, the principal, establishes its relations with NSAGs, the agents, by employing a calculated governance structure. Such a structure works as a set of control mechanisms that equally enforces extreme vetting in the selection process of NSAGs, regulates performance-based compensation/sanction, and allows for outcome-based bonuses/penalties. I examine how Iran’s calibrated approach has effectively curbed the shirking behaviour of NSAGs through comparing cases of explicit external support to NSAGs by US, Saudi Arabia, Israel and Iran from 1980 to 2017.