The Ties that Bind: Ethnicity, Pro-Government Militia and the Dynamics of Violence in Civil War

Luke Abbs, Govinda Clayton, Andrew Thomson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Abstract

Existing research reveals many of the ways pro-government militia (PGM) shape civil violence but overlooks how the ethno-political ties between the state and a PGM might influence these effects. We argue that co-ethnic militia (i.e., groups composed of the ruling elite’s ethnic kin) are relatively loyal irregular forces that multiply state military capacity. The greater loyalty of co-ethnic groups mitigates principal–agent problems but further polarizes ethnic communities, and as a result, co-ethnic PGMs are likely to be associated with longer and more intense civil conflict. We test this argument on a global sample of cases from 1989 to 2007 using new data capturing the ethnic ties of all PGMs. The results support our claims that co-ethnic militia are associated with more intense and longer civil conflict.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-43
JournalThe Journal of Conflict Resolution
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 12 Nov 2019

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militia
civil war
ethnicity
violence
loyalty
ethnic group
elite
Military
Government
Civil war
Ethnic groups
community
Group

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The Ties that Bind: Ethnicity, Pro-Government Militia and the Dynamics of Violence in Civil War. / Abbs, Luke; Clayton, Govinda; Thomson, Andrew.

In: The Journal of Conflict Resolution , 12.11.2019, p. 1-43.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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