ECPR

Install the app

Install this application on your home screen for quick and easy access when you’re on the go.

Just tap Share then “Add to Home Screen”

ECPR

Install the app

Install this application on your home screen for quick and easy access when you’re on the go.

Just tap Share then “Add to Home Screen”

A Technique, not a Policy? Negotiations in Internal Armed Conflicts under the Shadow of Terrorism

Conflict
Conflict Resolution
Political Violence
Terrorism
Negotiation
Michael Fuerstenberg
Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology
Michael Fuerstenberg
Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology
Carolin Görzig
Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies – MPIfG
Download Full Paper

Abstract

States usually pride themselves on not negotiating with ‘terrorists’ on principle. However, negotiations, whether ultimately successful or not, with so-called ‘insurgents’ or ‘rebels’ are a common feature of internal conflicts, even though many of those groups employ terrorist tactics to some degree. The question we address in this paper is whether this apparent contradiction can be resolved by looking at the actual violent behaviour – i.e. the quantity and quality of their use of terrorism vis-à-vis other tactics – of insurgents, or is simply a question of political labelling. For example, in recent years the United States have referred to the Afghan Taliban as “armed insurgents” rather than as a “terrorist group”, probably in order to facilitate negotiations and the exchange of prisoners, but also reflecting the actual military conduct of Taliban forces. Recent research has finally started to overcome the traditional divide between ‘terrorism -’ and ‘conflict studies’ and begun to concentrate on the nexus of terrorism and civil wars. Results on the questions whether the use of terrorism in this context is a sign of weakness or strength and improves or impairs the prospects of success of violent non-state actors are, however, still mixed. Building on this new strand of research we use data on negotiation processes in internal armed conflicts to shed light on the influence of the insurgent’s choice of tactics on the progress of these negotiations. Additionally, we examine the way the state and possible third-party mediators are handling the delicate question of the nature of the non-state party at the bargaining table.