To Punish or to Pardon?

68 Pages Posted: 18 Jun 2020

See all articles by Kristen Kao

Kristen Kao

University of Gothenburg; University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - Department of Political Science

Mara Redlich Revkin

Duke University School of Law; Georgetown University Law Center

Date Written: 2018


Rebel groups that govern territory require the support of large numbers of civilians. After
conflict ends, these civilians are often perceived as rebel collaborators. Yet, we know relatively little about what victimized populations think is the appropriate response to collaborators. This gap in our knowledge has serious implications for the durability of peace. Through experiments embedded in an original survey of Mosul, an Iraqi city that experienced 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 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: reintegration, Islamic State, punishment

Suggested Citation

Kao, Kristen and Revkin, Mara Redlich, To Punish or to Pardon? (2018). Program on Governance and Local Development Working Paper No. 17, Available at SSRN: or

Kristen Kao (Contact Author)

University of Gothenburg ( email )

Viktoriagatan 30
Göteborg, 405 30

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - Department of Political Science

Loas Angeles, CA
United States

Mara Redlich Revkin

Duke University School of Law ( email )

Box 90360
Durham, NC 27708-0360
United States

Georgetown University Law Center ( email )

600 New Jersey Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20001
United States

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