To Punish or to Pardon? Reintegrating Rebel Collaborators After Conflict in Iraq

64 Pages Posted: 24 Jun 2018 Last revised: 2 Nov 2018

See all articles by Kristen Kao

Kristen Kao

Göteborg University

Mara Redlich Revkin

Yale University, Department of Political Science

Date Written: November 2, 2018


Rebel groups that govern territory require the support or cooperation of large numbers of civilians who are often perceived as "collaborators" after conflict ends. Given the difficulty of conducting research in war zones, we know very little about public opinion toward collaborators. This knowledge gap is an impediment to transitional justice and sustainable peace-building. Through experiments embedded in an original door-to-door survey of Mosul, an Iraqi city that experienced three years of governance by the Islamic State, we identify the effects of hypothetical collaborators' (1) identity traits and (2) type of collaboration on preferences for punishment, forgiveness, and reintegration. Contrary to the government's harsh and indiscriminate approach to prosecuting collaborators, participants prefer more lenient punishments—or no punishment—for some. We also find that the nature of collaboration matters more than the identity of the collaborator. Our design helps identify the conditions under which former rebel collaborators may be successfully reintegrated into post-conflict societies.

Keywords: Comparative Law, Political Science, Terrorism, International Law, Conflict, Experiments, Survey Methodology

JEL Classification: K14, C83, C9, Z28, K33, K38, F51, F52

Suggested Citation

Kao, Kristen and Redlich Revkin, Mara, To Punish or to Pardon? Reintegrating Rebel Collaborators After Conflict in Iraq (November 2, 2018). Available at SSRN:

Kristen Kao

Göteborg University ( email )

Viktoriagatan 30
Göteborg, 405 30

Mara Redlich Revkin (Contact Author)

Yale University, Department of Political Science ( email )

New Haven, CT 06520
United States

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