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Military Empowerment and Civilian Targeting in Civil War

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  • Juan F. Vargas

    ()
    (Royal Holloway College, University of London)

Abstract

Civilians constitute a large share of casualties in civil wars across the world. They are targeted to create fear and punish allegiance with the enemy. This maximizes collaboration with the perpetrator and strengthens the support network necessary to consolidate control over contested regions. I develop a model of the magnitude and structure of civilian killings in civil wars involving two armed groups who fight over territorial control. Armies secure compliance through a combination of carrots and sticks. In turn, civilians differ from each other in their intrinsic preference towards one group. I explore the effect of the empowerment of one of the groups in the civilian death toll. There are two effects that go in opposite directions. While a direct effect makes the powerful group more lethal, there is an indirect effect by which the number of civilians who align with that group increases, leaving less enemy supporters to kill. I study the conditions under which there is one dominant effect and illustrate the predictions using sub-national longitudinal data for Colombia s civil war.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Households in Conflict Network in its series HiCN Working Papers with number 56.

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Length: 30 pages
Date of creation: Feb 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hic:wpaper:56

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References

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  1. Ahmed Saber Mahmud & Juan F. Vargas, 2008. "Combatant recruitment and the outcome of war," DOCUMENTOS DE TRABAJO 005029, UNIVERSIDAD DEL ROSARIO.
  2. Assar Lindbeck & Jörgen Weibull, 1987. "Balanced-budget redistribution as the outcome of political competition," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 52(3), pages 273-297, January.
  3. Restrepo, Jorge & Spagat, Michael & Vargas, Juan F, 2003. "The Dynamics of the Colombian Civil Conflict: A New Data Set," CEPR Discussion Papers 4108, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Ragnar Torvik & James A. Robinson & Mario Chacón, 2006. "When is Democracy an Equilibrium?: Theory and Evidence from Colombia's La Violencia," Working Paper Series 7106, Department of Economics, Norwegian University of Science and Technology.
  5. Wintrobe,Ronald, 2000. "The Political Economy of Dictatorship," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521794497, April.
  6. Azam, Jean-Paul & Hoeffler, Anke, 2001. "Violence Against Civilians in Civil Wars: Looting or Terror?," Working Paper Series UNU-WIDER Research Paper , World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
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Cited by:
  1. Ben Oppenheim & Juan F. Vargas & Michael Weintraub, 2011. "Learning how (not) to fire a gun: combatant training and civilian victimization," DOCUMENTOS DE TRABAJO 009168, UNIVERSIDAD DEL ROSARIO.
  2. Juan F. Vargas, 2011. "The persistent colombian conflict bubnational analysis of the duration of violence," DOCUMENTOS DE TRABAJO 007934, UNIVERSIDAD DEL ROSARIO.
  3. Blanco Mariana & Vargas Juan F., 2014. "Can SMS Technology Improve Low Take-up of Social Benefits?," Peace Economics, Peace Science, and Public Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 20(1), pages 61-81, January.
  4. Ahmed Saber Mahmud & Juan F. Vargas, 2008. "Combatant recruitment and the outcome of war," DOCUMENTOS DE TRABAJO 005029, UNIVERSIDAD DEL ROSARIO.

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