Dangerous Liaisons: Why Ex-Combatants Return to Violence. Cases from the Republic of Congo and Sierra Leone
2008 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
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
ex-combatants, reintegration, demobilization, DDR, conflict resolution, peacebuilding, civil wars, Republic of Congo, Sierra Leone
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-9414ISBN: 978-91-506-2037-5OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-9414DiVA: diva2:172980
2008-12-19, , Gustavianum, Akademig. 3, Uppsala, 10:15
Spear, Joanna, Professor
Ohlson, Thomas, ProfessorHöglund, Kristine, Associate ProfessorHammarström, Mats, Associate Professor