Civilian Protest in Civil War: Insights from Côte d'Ivoire


How does civilian protest shape civil war dynamics? Existing research shows that civilian protests against violence and war contribute to peace and restrain violence against civilians. There is less research on civilian protests that are at odds with peaceful conflict resolution, such as protests to salute armed actors, advocate against peace agreements, and oppose peacekeepers. This study develops a novel typology of wartime civilian protest that brings together protests to different ends, and theorizes the heterogeneous effects of protest on civil war dynamics. Using quantitative and qualitative evidence from new disaggregated and georeferenced event data from Côte d’Ivoire, the study demonstrates that—contingent on certain demands—protests were associated with violence against civilians, violence involving peacekeepers, and failed conflict resolution. These findings contribute new knowledge on how civilians shape the dynamics of civil war, and caution that nonviolent civilian action may not only be a force for de-escalation and peace.

American Political Science Review (online first)
Sebastian van Baalen
Sebastian van Baalen
Assistant Professor of Peace & Conflict Research

My research interests include the dynamics of violence and civil war.