Ruling with minorities: rebel governance and power-sharing institutions
Why do some rebel groups choose to share power with ethnic minorities? During civil wars, rebels often establish order, provide services, and create alternative systems of governance. Typologies of rebel institutions vary widely in terms of inclusiveness, responsiveness, and accountability to local populations. Recent research shows that rebels tend to create inclusive institutions only when the local population matches the rebels' constituency. For this reason, rebel governance often leads to persecution of minorities, forced displacement, and ethnic cleansing. However, in rarer cases, rebel groups create power-sharing institutions to include the ethnic and religious minorities under their control. Examples include the PYD in North-East Syria, the Maoists in Nepal, the SPLM/A in Sudan, and others.
The concept of power-sharing describes institutional arrangements such as grand coalitions, proportional representation or parliamentary systems designed to prevent the resurgence of conflict and establish democracy. Indeed, many elements of successful power-sharing institutions are not appropriate for civil war contexts. However, power-sharing is ultimately a set of institutional configurations designed to accommodate the interests of conflicting groups in fragmented societies. For this reason, I argue that this same logic underlies the institutions created by the PYD and other rebel groups. First, through the literature on peace and post-conflict institutions, I classified the different configurations of power-sharing institutions in terms of decision-making, administration, and control over resources. Second, by analyzing existing literature and datasets on rebel governance, I sought to identify the typologies of power-sharing institutions created by rebel groups during civil wars. Finally, I hypothesized the elements that facilitate the creation of power-sharing institutions by rebels.
To my knowledge, there is no comprehensive study of power-sharing in civil wars. Therefore, the findings will contribute to civil war research by adding to the body of knowledge on rebel-led institutions. Finally, my research will identify the elements that facilitate the creation of power-sharing institutions during civil wars, providing practitioners and policymakers with tools for post-conflict and transitional solutions.