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Civil War as State-Making: Strategic Governance in Civil War

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 November 2017

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Why do some rebel groups provide governance inclusively while most others do not? Some insurgencies divert critical financial and personnel resources to provide benefits to anyone, including nonsupporters (Karen National Union, Eritrean People's Liberation Front). Other groups offer no services or limit their service provision to only those people who support, or are likely to support, the insurgency. The existing literature examines how insurgencies incentivize recruitment by offering selective social services, yet no research addresses why insurgencies provide goods inclusively. I argue that inclusive provision of services legitimates insurgents’ claim of sovereignty to domestic and international audiences, and thus is a strategic tool secessionist rebels use to achieve their long-term goal of independence. With new and original data, I use a large-N analysis to test this hypothesis. The results of the analysis support the hypothesis, underscoring the importance insurgent nonviolent behavior and addressing key issues such as sovereignty and governance.

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