Secessionism and Civilian Targeting

59 Pages Posted: 27 Aug 2013

Date Written: 2013


This paper contributes to a burgeoning literature on civilian targeting in civil war by arguing that rebel war aims can offer critical insight into who targets civilians, and when. Specifically, I argue that secessionists are less likely than non-secessionist rebel groups to target civilians in civil war, for two reasons. First, secessionists, who have the greatest military capacity in their claimed region, are unlikely to target civilians meant to comprise the population of their desired state. And second, secessionists are especially, and increasingly, aware of and concerned with their reputation with respect to the international community. I test these claims using an original data set on civil wars from 1816 to 2007, as well as a case study of the South Moluccan separatist movement.

Suggested Citation

Fazal, Tanisha, Secessionism and Civilian Targeting (2013). APSA 2013 Annual Meeting Paper, American Political Science Association 2013 Annual Meeting, Available at SSRN:

Tanisha Fazal (Contact Author)

University of Notre Dame

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