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Learning how (not) to fire a gun: combatant training and civilian victimization

  • Ben Oppenheim


  • Juan F. Vargas


  • Michael Weintraub


What is the relationship between the type of training combatants receive upon recruitmentinto an armed group and their propensity to abuse civilians in civil war? Does military training or political training prevent or exacerbate the victimization of civilians by armed non-state actors? While the literature on civilian victimization has expanded rapidly, few studies have examined the correlation between abuse of civilians and the modes of training that illegal armed actors receive. Using a simple formal model, we develop hypotheses regarding this connection and argue that while military training should not decrease the probability that a combatant engages in civilian abuse, political training should. We test these hypotheses using a new survey consisting of a representative sample of approximately 1,500 demobilized combatants from the Colombian conflict, which we match with department-level data on civilian casualties. The empirical analysis con rms our hypotheses about the connection between training and civilian abuse and the results are robust to adding a full set of controls both at the department and at the individual level.

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Paper provided by UNIVERSIDAD DEL ROSARIO in its series DOCUMENTOS DE TRABAJO with number 009168.

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Length: 36
Date of creation: 12 Dec 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:col:000092:009168
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  1. Juan F. Vargas, 2009. "Military Empowerment and Civilian Targeting in Civil War," HiCN Working Papers 56, Households in Conflict Network.
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