Retribution or Reconciliation? Post-Conflict Attitudes Toward Enemy Collaborators
40 Pages Posted: 12 Sep 2019 Last revised: 29 Aug 2021
Date Written: February 12, 2021
Armed groups that seek to govern territory require the cooperation of many civilians, who are then widely perceived as enemy collaborators after conflict ends. The empirical literature on attitudes toward transitional justice focuses heavily on fighters, overlooking more nuanced understandings of proportional justice for civilian collaborators. Through a survey experiment conducted in an Iraqi city that was controlled by the Islamic State, we find that the type of collaboration an actor engages in is a strong determinant of preferences for punishment and forgiveness. While direct exposure to violence is associated with a greater desire for revenge, we argue that perceived volition behind an act is more important. Our research provides unique empirical data on the microfoundations of enemy collaborator culpability, filling a gap in the study of conflict. Our findings have important implications for policymakers seeking to balance accountability and the need for reconciliation in post-war settings.
Keywords: Transitional Justice, Rebel Governance, Survey Methodology, Iraq
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