Violence in Post-Conflict Societies: Remarginalization, Remobilizers and Relationships

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This book examines why some ex-combatants re-engage in political violence after civil wars have ended, while others do not.

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 work fills this gap by comparing the presence or absence of organized violence in different ex-combatant communities — 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 communities and each other) — are applied to the six cases, in order to explain why relatively many former Cobra, CDF, Ninja and RUF fighters resorted violence, while no or hardly any ex-AFRC and Cocoye combatants did the same. Contrary to previously held assumptions, this study finds that structural factors, relating to remarginalization, have little explanatory 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 fighters 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 intermediaries between the two. By utilizing relationships based on selective incentives and social networks, these two kinds of remobilizers are able to generate the needed enticements and feelings 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.

This book will be of much interest to students of civil wars, post-conflict reconstruction, war and conflict studies, security studies and IR.

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Anders Themnér is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Peace and Conflict Research at Uppsala University. He has previously published under the name R. Anders Nilsson.

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Table of Contents

1. Introduction: Once a Solider, always a Soldier?

2. Remarginalisation, Remobilisers and Relationships

3. Republic of Congo

4. Sierra Leone

5. Comparative Analysis

6. Conclusions


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