Child Soldier Recruitment and its influence on Conflict Dynamics

Several rebel groups actively recruit children to serve among their ranks. While this constitutes one of the most egregious violations of children’s rights, much remains unclear about its effect: it is unclear what impact recruited children have on the fighting capacities of these armed groups, how chidl recruitment influence post-conflict recurrence, and how it influences conflict duration. Based on a newly compiled data on child recruitment by rebel groups between 1989 and 2013, I analye how the recrutiment of adolescents influence these factors.

Organizational Structure of Armed Movement

A range of theories have attempted to explain the variation in civilian abuse of warring parties. Most of these theories have been focused on exogenous factors, such as the role of international organizations and the asymmetric power between the actors. Less attention is devoted to the perpetrators of these human right abuses themselves: the armed groups. My thesis attempts to fill this niche by using a principal-agent framework in which it is assumed that civilian victimization is the result of a calculative decision of the leader. The faithful execution of this order depends on the level of control she has over her troops. The relationship between the level of control and the perpetrated civilian abuse is examined in two ways. First, a dataset is constructed based on a survey held among more than 300 experts of more than 80 different armed groups around the world. Second, micro-level data has been collected in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Both data collection efforts have been focused on three aspects of the internal structure: the recruitment of new members, the level of hierarchy within these groups, and the level of commitment showed by their fighters. Together with information on the level of civilian abuse perpetrated by these groups, the thesis attempts to shed light on the organizational roots of human right abuses.

Traditional Governance und Modern Statehood

In many states there are ethnic groups, who organize their political decision-making, their conflict resolution mechanisms and their jurisdiction via traditional institutions. These traditional forms of governance co-exist with the political institutions active at the state-level. How they co-exist together and how these traditional institutions influence the level of democracy and domestic conflict on the state-level is relatively unknown. This is surprising considering the fact that this relationship might yield new insights in problems relating to the process of democratization and the occurrence of civil wars. In this project, we will first conduct a worldwide macro-level quantitative analysis of the relationship between the scope of traditional institutions and their level of integration in state-level political institutions and the level of democracy one the one hand and domestic peace on the state-level on the other hand. The causal mechanisms underlying these linkages will, thereafter, be examined with a comparative case study design with a focus on African countries, since it is assumed that traditional governances is especially present on this continent.