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Military empowerment and civilian targeting in civil war

Juan Vargas

Documentos de Trabajo from Universidad del Rosario

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 ght over territorial control. Armies secure compliance through a combination of carrots and sticks. In turn, civilians di¤er from each other in their intrinsic preference towards one group. I explore the e¤ect of the empowerment of one of the groups in the civilian death toll. There are two e¤ects that go in opposite directions. While a direct e¤ect makes the powerful group more lethal, there is an indirect e¤ect 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 e¤ect and illustrate the predictions using sub-national longitudinal data for Colombia's civil war.

Date: 2009-02-01
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Working Paper: Military Empowerment and Civilian Targeting in Civil War (2009) Downloads
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Handle: RePEc:col:000092:005282