Keeping Communal Peace in the Shadow of Civil War: A Natural Experiment from Côte d'Ivoire
Keeping Communal Peace in the Shadow of Civil War: A Natural Experiment from Côte d'Ivoire

Violent communal conflicts between identity-based groups are a severe threat to human security and development. While most communal conflicts take place in civil war-affected countries, communal conflict is not an inevitable byproduct of civil war. What explains communal peace in civil war? Existing research tends to overlook interlinkages between communal conflict and civil war, meaning that knowledge on how armed groups exacerbate or mitigate communal conflicts is limited. Combining insights from research on communal conflict and non-state armed groups, this study proposes that communal conflicts are less severe in areas controlled by legitimacy-seeking armed groups that seek acceptance for its political authority and right to rule from domestic and international audiences. Legitimacy-seeking armed groups have greater incentives to develop institutions and practices that prevent both communal conflict onset and escalation, which helps keep communal peace. The study examines the argument through a natural experiment in western Côte d’Ivoire, where more legitimacy-seeking and more legitimacy-indifferent armed groups came to control proximate and highly comparable communities because of an arbitrary ceasefire line. Using process-tracing to analyze unique interview and archival sources, the study demonstrates that communal conflicts were far deadlier in areas controlled by the more legitimacy-indifferent militias than in areas controlled by the more legitimacy-seeking Forces Nouvelles rebel group. These findings highlight that armed groups can be both agents of wartime disorder and order, and contribute new insights on communal peace in the shadow of civil war.

Civilian Protest and Competitive State-building in Rebel-held Côte d’Ivoire

How do urban environments shape the occurrence of wartime civilian protest? Wartime civilian protest in this chapter refers to instances of public, collective, and predominantly nonviolent action by which noncombatants make claims on a conflict party within the context of armed conflict. Building on a unique georeferenced database of protest events in rebel-held Côte d’Ivoire, as well as insights from eight months of field research and relevant secondary sources, this chapter interrogates the occurrence and dynamics of wartime civilian protest. Starting from the observation that civilian protest was predominantly an urban phenomenon, I argue that protest was a function of a broader process of competitive state-building between the government and the rebels. Competitive state-building in rebel-held cities in turn prompted civilian protest by generating both opportunities for the rebels to organize anti-government protests, and opportunities and incentives for civilians to challenge wartime governance through collective action. The chapter contributes new knowledge on how urban environments shape processes of competitive state-building in civil war, the urban dynamics of wartime civilian agency, and to our understanding of how armed insurrection in the bushes can trigger civilian protests in the street.

Polls of Fear: Electoral Violence, Incumbent Strength, and Voter Turnout in Côte d'Ivoire
Polls of Fear: Electoral Violence, Incumbent Strength, and Voter Turnout in Côte d'Ivoire

How, and under what conditions, does electoral violence influence voter turnout? Existing research often presumes that electoral violence demobilizes voters, but we lack knowledge of the conditions under which violence depresses turnout. This study takes a subnational approach to probe the moderating effect of local incumbent strength on the association between electoral violence and turnout. Based on existing work, I argue that electoral violence can reduce voter turnout by heightening threat perceptions among voters and eroding public trust in the electoral system, thereby raising the expected costs of voting and undermining the belief that one’s vote matters. Moreover, I propose that in elections contested across multiple local rather than a single national voting district, the negative effect of electoral violence on turnout should be greater in districts where the incumbent is stronger. This is because when the incumbent is stronger, voters have lesser strategic and purposive incentives to vote than voters in localities where the opposition is stronger. I test the argument by combining original subnational event data on electoral violence before Côte d’Ivoire’s 2021 legislative elections with electoral records. The results support the main hypothesis and indicate that electoral violence was associated with significantly lower voter turnout in voting districts where the incumbent was stronger, but not where the opposition was stronger. The study contributes new knowledge on the conditions under which electoral violence depresses voter turnout, and suggests that voters in opposition strongholds can be more resilient to electoral violence than often assumed.

Political Territorial Control and Conflict-Related Violence in Postwar Abidjan

What explains spatial patterns of conflict-related violence in contested postwar cities? Existing studies of postwar violence tend to study the structural determinants of violence, but we still lack knowledge of the processes whereby political territorial control shapes and is shaped by violence. We argue that conflict-related violence in postwar cities is best viewed as part of a process of political territorialization whereby the postwar government seeks to undermine the opposition’s pockets of political territorial control. Opposition territoriality in cities constitutes a threat to the postwar regime, as such areas can function as a springboard for urban insurgency or political opposition. Both the government and the opposition therefore have stronger incentives to employ violence in opposition strongholds: the government to undermine the opposition’s territorial control, and the opposition to fortify its turf. We explore our argument on postwar Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, drawing on an original georeferenced dataset of conflict-related violence events and in-depth case studies of three urban districts. Patterns of conflict-related violence in postwar violence conform to our theoretical expectations, meaning that violence was more severe in opposition strongholds and of a character consistent with a process of political territorialization. Taken together, the study contributes new knowledge on how processes of political territorialization play out in postwar cities and shape the spatiality of conflict-related postwar violence.

Civil War Recurrence and Postwar Violence: Toward An Integrated Research Agenda

Violence after civil war is a challenge to sustainable peace. Many armed conflicts today are recurrences of previous wars and much of the literature on violence after war explains why armed groups return to the battlefield. But even if peace prevails, many other types of violence take place in postwar environments. This postwar violence is likewise subject to a growing multidisciplinary literature. Using citation network analysis, we show that research on war recurrence and postwar violence has developed in relative isolation from each other—although these phenomena are interrelated. This compartmentalization leads us to overlook important similarities and differences in the drivers of different forms of violence after war. We demonstrate this by reviewing the literature in both of these closely related fields. While war recurrence and postwar violence share a set of common risk factors, some factors can have opposite effects on the two outcomes. Because these insights only emerge when systematically comparing the two strands of literature, we propose a novel framework for the study of violence after wars that aims at overcoming the compartmentalization of research within these two fields. The framework serves both as a conceptual lens and an analytical tool to categorize and compare different forms of violence after war. We then outline how the framework aids scholars in pursuing an integrated research agenda, with concrete suggestions for research questions that should be studied to expand our understanding of violence after wars.

Local Elites, Civil Resistance, and the Responsiveness of Rebel Governance in Côte d'Ivoire
Local Elites, Civil Resistance, and the Responsiveness of Rebel Governance in Côte d'Ivoire

Why is rebel governance more responsive in some areas than in others? In recent years, scholars have started to examine the determinants of rebel governance. Less attention has been given to explaining variation in the responsiveness of rebel governance, that is, the degree to which rebels are soliciting and acting upon civilian preferences in their governance. This article seeks to address this gap by studying local variation in rebel responsiveness. I argue that rebel responsiveness is a function of whether local elites control clientelist networks that allow them to mobilize local citizens. Strong clientelist networks are characterized by local elite control over resources and embeddedness in local authority structures. In turn, such networks shape local elites’ capacity for mobilizing support for, or civil resistance against, the rebels, and hence their bargaining power in negotiations over rebel governance. Drawing on unique interview and archival data collected during eight months of fieldwork, as well as existing survey data, the study tests the argument through a systematic comparison of four areas held by the Forces Nouvelles in Côte d’Ivoire. The analysis indicates that the strength of local elites’ clientelist networks shapes rebel responsiveness. Moreover, it provides support for the theorized civil resistance mechanism, and shows that this mechanism is further enhanced by ethnopolitical ties between civilians and rebels. These findings speak to the burgeoning literature on rebel governance and to research on civil resistance. In addition, the results inform policy debates on how to protect civilians in civil war.

Guns and Governance: Local Elites and Rebel Governance in Côte d'Ivoire

Close to one billion people live in conflict zones around the world, many of them in areas under rebel influence. Research on civil war shows that rebels often engage in governing localities under their control by creating institutions and practices intended to shape the social, political, and economic life of civilians. However, we lack knowledge about why rebel governance is more responsive to civilians in some areas than in others. This study addresses this research gap by developing and testing a novel theoretical framework for explaining local variation in rebel responsiveness. Rebel responsiveness refers to the degree to which the rebels are soliciting and acting upon civilian preferences in the way in which they govern. The empirical investigation focuses on rebel governance by the Forces Nouvelles in Côte d’Ivoire between 2002 and 2010. To assess and refine the theoretical framework, the study conducts in-depth case studies of four localities: Odienné, northern Man, southern Man, and Vavoua. While the four areas shared several characteristics and were all governed by the Forces Nouvelles, rebel governance was responsive in Odienné and northern Man, but unresponsive in southern Man and Vavoua. The case analyses build on original and extensive material collected through interviews and in Ivorian archives. The study also tests the argument through a complementary quantitative analysis of 162 rebel-held areas in Côte d’Ivoire. The main conclusion of the study is that rebel governance was more responsive in areas with strong local elites than in areas with weak local elites. Strong local elites have extensive control over access to resources and enjoy high levels of social authority, which enables them to mobilise local citizens to either cooperate with or resist the rebels. This combination of cooperation and civil resistance incentivises rebels to make their rule more responsive towards civilians. The study refines our conception of rebel governance, generates new knowledge on the causes of rebel responsiveness, and sheds new light on how local elites and citizens shape rebel rule. Taken together, the findings have important implications for the protection of civilians in civil war.

Climate Change and Violent Conflict in East Africa: Integrating Qualitative and Quantitative Research to Probe the Mechanisms

How does climate change affect the risk and dynamics of violent conflict? Existing research shows that climate change can increase the risk of violent conflict and significantly alter the dynamics of existing conflicts. Less is known about the exact mechanisms through which climate change affects violent conflict. In this article, we address this lacuna in light of the first systematic review of both quantitative and qualitative scholarship. Through an analysis of forty-three peer-reviewed articles on climate-related environmental change and violent conflict in East Africa published 1989–2016, we evaluate to what extent the literature provides coherent explanations that identify relevant mechanisms, actors, and outcomes. In addition, we discuss the expected temporal and spatial distribution of violence and the confounding political factors implied in the literature. Against this background, we offer a number of suggestions for how future climate-conflict research can theorize and explore mechanisms. Future research should distinguish between explanations that focus on causes and dynamics of climate-related violent conflict, theoretically motivate when and where violence is most likely to occur, systematically examine the role of state policies and intervention, and explore the implications of each explanation at the microlevel.