uu.seUppsala University Publications
Change search
ReferencesLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
Dangerous Liaisons: Why Ex-Combatants Return to Violence. Cases from the Republic of Congo and Sierra Leone
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Peace and Conflict Research.
2008 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

After disarming and demobilizing, why do some ex-combatants re-engage in organized vio-lence, while others do not? Even though former fighters have been identified as a major source of insecurity in post-civil war societies due to their military know-how, there have been few efforts to systematically examine this puzzle. This study fills this research gap by comparing the presence or absence of organized violence in different ex-combatant communi-ties – all the former fighters that used to belong to the same armed faction and who share a common, horizontal identity based on shared war-and peacetime experiences. It does so by analyzing six ex-combatant communities in two countries: ex-Cobra, Cocoye and Ninja in the Republic of Congo and ex-AFRC, CDF and RUF in Sierra Leone. More specifically, three concepts – remarginalization (former fighters’ lack of political influence, personal security or economic assistance), remobilizers (individuals who have the will, capacity and skills to coordinate organized violence in a post-conflict setting) and relationships (whether or not remobilizers share social or material bonds, conducive for war, with ex-combatant communi-ties and each other) – are applied to the six cases, in order to explain why relatively many former CDF, Cobra, Ninja and RUF fighters resorted to violence, while no or hardly any ex-AFRC and Cocoye combatants did the same. Contrary to assumptions found in previous research, this study finds that structural factors, relating to remarginalization, have little ex-planatory value in themselves. Being a rule, rather than an exception, remarginalization can best be understood as a background variable, creating conducive conditions for violence to take place. Instead, the main determinants of ex-combatant violence are whether former fight-ers have access to regional or domestic elites in the market for experienced fighters and to second-tier individuals – such as former mid-level commanders – who can act as intermediar-ies between the two. By utilizing relationships based on selective incentives and social net-works, these two kinds of remobilizers are able to generate the needed enticements and feel-ings of affinity, trust or fear, to convince ex-combatants to resort to arms. These findings demonstrate that the outbreak of ex-combatant violence can only be understood by more clearly incorporating an actor perspective, focusing on three levels of analysis: the elite, mid-level and grass-root.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Institutionen för freds- och konfliktforskning , 2008.
Report / Department of Peace and Conflict Research, ISSN 0566-8808 ; 84
Keyword [en]
ex-combatants, reintegration, demobilization, DDR, conflict resolution, peacebuilding, civil wars, Republic of Congo, Sierra Leone
National Category
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-9414ISBN: 978-91-506-2037-5OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-9414DiVA: diva2:172980
Public defence
2008-12-19, , Gustavianum, Akademig. 3, Uppsala, 10:15
Available from: 2008-11-28 Created: 2008-11-28 Last updated: 2015-12-21Bibliographically approved

Open Access in DiVA

No full text

Search in DiVA

By author/editor
Nilsson, R. Anders
By organisation
Department of Peace and Conflict Research
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary

Search outside of DiVA

GoogleGoogle Scholar
The number of downloads is the sum of all downloads of full texts. It may include eg previous versions that are now no longer available

Total: 2642 hits
ReferencesLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link