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External Rebel Sponsorship and Civilian Abuse: A Principal-Agent Analysis of Wartime Atrocities

40 Pages Posted: 16 Jul 2012 Last revised: 9 Aug 2012

Idean Salehyan

University of North Texas; International Peace Research Institute, Oslo (PRIO); University of Texas at Austin - Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law; Southern Methodist University (SMU) - John G. Tower Center for Political Studies

David Siroky

Arizona State University (ASU)

Reed M. Wood

School of Politics and Global Studies, Arizona State University

Date Written: 2012

Abstract

While some groups work hard to foster collaborative ties with civilians, others engage in egregious abuses and war crimes. We argue that foreign state funding for rebel organizations greatly reduces the incentives of militant groups to the ‘win the hearts and minds’ of civilians because it diminishes the need to collect resources from the population. However, unlike other lucrative resources, foreign funding of rebel groups must be understood in principal-agent terms. Some external principals — namely, democracies and states with strong human rights lobbies — are more concerned with atrocities in the conflict zone than others. Multiple state principals also lead to abuse as no single state can effectively restrain the organization. We test these conjectures with new data on foreign support for rebel groups and data on one-sided violence against civilians. Our results provide support for these hypotheses. Most notably, we find strong evidence that principal characteristics help influence agent actions.

Keywords: civilian victimization, civil war, insurgency, foreign support

Suggested Citation

Salehyan, Idean and Siroky, David and Wood, Reed M., External Rebel Sponsorship and Civilian Abuse: A Principal-Agent Analysis of Wartime Atrocities (2012). APSA 2012 Annual Meeting Paper. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2108869

Idean Salehyan

University of North Texas ( email )

1155 Union Circle #305340
Denton, TX 76203
United States

International Peace Research Institute, Oslo (PRIO) ( email )

Oslo
N-0260 Oslo
Norway

University of Texas at Austin - Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law ( email )

2315 Red River Street
Austin, TX 78712
United States

Southern Methodist University (SMU) - John G. Tower Center for Political Studies ( email )

PO Box 750117
Dallas, TX 75275-0117
United States

David Siroky

Arizona State University (ASU) ( email )

Farmer Building 440G PO Box 872011
Tempe, AZ 85287
United States

Reed M. Wood (Contact Author)

School of Politics and Global Studies, Arizona State University ( email )

Tempe, AZ
United States

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