CIDCM / IR Workshop
Event Date and Time:
Monday, September 21, 2015 - 11:00am
1109 Chincoteague Hall (first floor conference room)
Kathleen Cunningham (with Kanisha Bond and Katherine Sawyer), University of Maryland
"Rebel Legitimacy and Wartime Sexual Violence"
Not all rebel organizations are seen as equivalent in the eyes of states and the international community. Historically, some rebel forces have been viewed as "freedom fighters" while others are seen as essentially criminals. A critical difference in these perceptions of rebel groups relates to the concept of legitimacy. Rebel organizations can employ a number of tactics to increase their perceived legitimacy. In this paper, we argue that groups with a history of democratically elected leaders are more likely to be perceived as legitimate by the state, affecting both the arsenal of tactics from which the government can credibly chose to fight the rebels as well as the means by which the rebels choose to challenge the state. Using original data on rebel leadership and organizational structure to capture the concept of legitimacy, in conjunction with data on sexual violence from the Sexual Violence in Armed Conflict (SVAC) dataset, we find that more legitimate rebel groups are less likely to engage in systematic acts of sexual violence in wartime. Moreover, when fighting such groups, the state is significantly less likely to commit acts of sexual violence against the rebels.
Brandon Ives and Paul Huth will serve as discussants.