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Theorising Variation in Political Stability in the Aftermath of Rebel Victories

Comparative Politics
Conflict Resolution
Political Violence
Enrique Wedgwood Young
University of Glasgow
Enrique Wedgwood Young
University of Glasgow

Several studies have sought to demonstrate that civil wars terminated by rebel victory result in particularly stable outcomes, insofar as they are less likely to recur than those terminated by government victory, negotiated settlement, or stalemate. However, data drawn from the Peace Research of Oslo's "Battle Deaths Dataset" suggests that the degree of political violence experienced by countries in the aftermath of rebel victory varies considerably. Moreover, recent experience in Libya, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the Central African Republic further demonstrates that rebel victories in themselves by no means guarantee a 'winning of the peace.' This paper develops a theory to explain variation in the degree of political stability experienced by countries in the first decade following rebel victory, through a structured, focused comparison of two pairs of cases. Specifically, it focuses on the influence of three realms of variables on explaining divergent outcomes; a) the behaviour of rebel groups in pursuit of victory; b) the nature and extent of victory achieved by rebel groups; and c) the measures adopted by victorious rebel groups in pursuit of peace, including steps to legitimise their rule, transform their internal structures, and reform the society and economy over which they assume control. In outlining a theory upon these foundations, the study makes a valuable contribution to ongoing debates on civil war termination and the durability of peace, through seeking to explain divergent outcomes in an important and under-studied subset of cases.
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