Working Papers

Rebels at the Gates: Civil War Battle Locations, Movement, and Openings for Mediation


In this paper, I build upon the conflict management, civil war, and bargaining literatures to develop and test a theoretical model that links openings for successful mediation to where civil war battles occur and how these locations change over time. I argue that the locations and movements of civil war battles provide information to both governments and rebels fighting a civil war that influences their willingness to engage in mediation. By identifying how civil war battles influence the willingness of warring sides to participate in mediation, I suggest that it is possible to identify other windows opportunity for effective conflict management beyond waiting for a conflict to evolve into a hurting stalemate. The results of my analysis of 47 African civil conflicts shows that battle locations, battle velocity, and battle dispersion each influence the occurrence and outcomes of mediation.

Nipping Them in the Bud:  The Occurrence of Mediation in Low-Intensity Civil Conflicts


Civil conflicts constitute one of the most significant threats to human security. Understanding when belligerents are willing to undertake conflict management efforts is an important first step in better understanding how civil conflicts can be dealt with by the international community.  In this paper, I examine the occurrence of mediation in low-intensity conflicts.  Drawing on insights from the war termination literature, I develop a theoretical argument that links mediation in low-intensity conflicts to the evolution of fighting.  I argue that, while the characteristics of a conflict and its belligerents influence when mediation happens, how events unfold on the battlefield also influences the occurrence of mediation. I test this argument by looking at low-intensity conflicts in Africa during 1997-2004 using data on mediation in low-intensity conflicts and battle-level civil conflict events.  The analysis highlights the important effect of battlefield outcomes and locations upon the occurrence of mediation in low-intensity conflicts.

The Durability of Imposed Democracy & the Futures of Iraq & Afghanistan – with Andrew Enterline


Why do imposed democracies endure? The fates of the fledgling polities in contemporary post-war Iraq and Afghanistan underscore the relevance of examining this question. Drawing on the subfields of comparative politics and international relations, we do so with a framework anchored to four sources of polity durability: (1) the domestic environment in which the democratic polity is imposed; (2) the degree of domestic security in the state into which a polity is imposed; (3) the commitment of the imposing power and (4) the international environment within which the host state and the imposed polity are nested. We use duration analysis and a sample of imposed democratic polities enduring in the twentieth century to test our expectations derived with the framework. We find that ethnic cleavages, economic development, domestic and international security, prior democratic experience, and the commitment of the imposing power to the imposed state are central to the the survival of imposed democracies. Our findings underscore the challenges that building durable democracies in post-invasion Afghanistan and Iraq face.

Staying the Course: Assessing the Durability of Peacekeeping Operations – with Thorin Wright, forthcoming Conflict Management and Peace Science


The use of peacekeeping to manage conflicts in the international system has grown since the end of the Cold War. While much attention has been devoted to what makes peacekeeping successful, the outcome of peacekeeping is ultimately tied to the willingness of the intervening actor(s) to “stay the course” and continue the mission until its objectives are complete. In this paper we focus upon the empirical puzzle of peacekeeping missions’ sustainability. After states and international organizations overcome the collective action problem of forming a mission and deploying it, it is puzzling that so many missions drop out before completion. We adopt a competing risks framework in our analysis to identify the forces that determine whether peacekeepers stay until the end of a conflict or withdraw early. Our explanation is that peacekeepers are more likely to stay the course as the capacity of the mission increases, the costs and risks of peacekeeping diminish, and traction towards peace is observed.

Taking Matters Into Their Own Hands: An Analysis of the Determinants of State-Conducted Peacekeeping in Civil Wars – with Nicolas Rost, Forthcoming Journal of Peace Research


Why and when do states take the burden upon themselves to send peacekeepers into a civil war, rather than relying on intergovernmental organizations to do so? While there are a few empirical studies on the conditions under which the UN sends peacekeeping missions, no such analyses of state-conducted peacekeeping exist. In this study, a theoretical framework on state-conducted peacekeeping in civil wars is developed and empirically tested. Not surprisingly, when acting outside international organizations, states are able to take their own interests directly into account and select those civil wars to which they send peacekeepers accordingly. States’ interests play a much greater role here than, for example, the interests of the major powers do for UN peacekeeping. When states send peacekeepers they are more likely to choose former colonies, military allies, trade partners, or countries with which they have ethnic ties. Yet, this does not mean that state-conducted peacekeeping occurs only where states see their interests. Contrary to conventional wisdom, states also provide peacekeeping to ‘tough’ cases, the most challenging civil wars. These are long, ethnic wars. This tendency for states to provide peacekeeping holds when civil wars produce dire effects upon civilians. States are more likely to send peacekeepers into civil wars that kill or displace many people. Finally, states react to opportunities: The more previous mediation attempts, the higher the chances for state-conducted peacekeeping.

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