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Jeremy M. Weinstein, “Resources and the Information Problem in Rebel Recruitment,” 2005  Builds on a scholarship that links natural resources to the onset.

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Presentation on theme: "Jeremy M. Weinstein, “Resources and the Information Problem in Rebel Recruitment,” 2005  Builds on a scholarship that links natural resources to the onset."— Presentation transcript:

1 Jeremy M. Weinstein, “Resources and the Information Problem in Rebel Recruitment,” 2005  Builds on a scholarship that links natural resources to the onset and duration of civil war  Focuses on the dynamics of the recruitment process (micro-level)  Weinstein’s model: a set of testable predictions about the character and conduct of the rebel group based on the linkages between the group’s resource endowment and the type of membership it is likely to attract  Assumption: Groups’ endowments shape recruitment strategies  Question: What are the implications of a particular resource mix for recruitment and structure of the organization (i.e. mix of endowments, resource constraints, uncertainty in delivery of selective incentives)?

2 Organization’s membership profile - two factors: 1.The resource mix of the rebel group  Resource-rich groups offer payoffs (short-term econ rewards); payoffs have to be higher than the opportunity cost of participation and exceed the value of what they would earn if they would not participate  Resource-poor groups offer promises (future rewards); credibility/reputation matters and requires social capital (e.g. repeated interaction, shared beliefs/norms of behavior, collective ethnic/religious identities) 2.The informational asymmetries that characterize recruitment What are “info asymmetries”?

3 Recruitment challenges: collective action problem & info asymmetries 1.Collective action problem – why join if participation is not necessary to reap benefits (if the rebellion wins)  High-commitment recruits (investors) = committed to the cause of the organization, willing to make costly sacrifices now in exchange for future gains  Low-commitment recruits (consumers) = seek short-term rewards, high defection, less productive, more costly 2. Information asymmetry in recruitment process Even though groups prefer to recruit high-commitment individuals, they cannot distinguish between high & low-commitment recruits (low-commitment recruits have an incentive to misrepresent)

4 Factors that impact the value of future benefits  probability of victory  probability of receiving the reward if they win (credibility of future promise)  individual’s perception of discount rate (investors do not discount future as much as consumers)

5 Strategies in recruitment The value of rewards may overcome the collective action challenge, but not the problem of adverse selection (signaling mechanism is not sufficient).  info gathering (community background checks)  vouching (current members vouch for the commitment of the new member)  costly induction (indoctrination or apprenticeship) Which one addresses the issue of adverse selection most effectively?

6 Observable implications The model suggests the following:  groups that can make credible promises can also recruit high- commitment individuals, whereas groups emerging in resource-rich environments offering short-term payoffs are likely to be heterogeneous in beliefs etc. - do you agree?  the key signal to commitment is the recruit’s willingness to defer private rewards into the future; the level of advanced education is likely to be higher in groups recruiting by promises alone than in groups offering immediate payoffs (p. 607) ???  strategies of info gathering, vouching and induction are used by orgs that rely on social endowments where both org and recruits are embedded in communities ???  costly induction is premised on pol beliefs or ideology

7 Implications of the specific type of membership on the structure of the organization How does an organization establish procedures, command and control, and communications infrastructure to ensure the flow of orders to decentralized units (the military model)? Socially endowed organizations: - the leadership is more likely to be able to establish an effective set of norms that guide conduct, therefore use violence more strategically, control the use of force, and establish links with civilian population Consumer-dominated rebel groups: -rebels face incentives to defect, their main goal is to enrich themselves during the conflict -much harder to employ systems of command and control and effective authority over civilian population -short-term oriented behavior may drive combatants to loot, destroy and kill, which will work against the objective of capturing the state


9 Uganda

10 Uganda (NRA)

11 Empirical evidence: comparing /contrasting rebel groups in Africa Links between resource bases & membership profiles and strategies  NRA (Uganda); social (promise of future econ gains and pol positions); grew from 27 to 4000/2 yrs; initially ethnically cohesive (2 ethnic groups), then expanded by pol (rather than ethnic) allegiances; common objective: to end ethnic tribalism and defeat the Obote regime; used info gathering and costly induction  Renamo (Mozambique); econ, guerilla camps in Rhodesia, steady foreign assistance; heterogenous, no pol platform until 10 yrs after its founding; when Rhodesia collapsed, 90% recruited by forceful coercion; no social or pol bonds=no ability to recruit voluntarily; less than 3% had edu; 20,000 members; leadership allowed to loot public & private property; became involved in ivory trade and started extorting multinationals in exchange for security guarantees Main contrast in the type of recruits: NRA – high-committed individuals, social ties, common grievances, future gains Renamo – low-committed, only as long as rewards lasted, then retained by forced coersion

12 A genocide in Northern Uganda? Policies of NRA, GoU, UPDF Photo (1999) of “protected camps” where 1.8 M of Acholi civilian population was moved after their villages were burned (1,000 dying each week). Human rights violations were committed by GoU (the Government of Uganda), UPDF (the Uganda People’s Defence Forces, and NRA (the National Resistance Army) in the 80s and 90s. Is this a genocide? Should Uganda be under ICC?

13 Uganda (NRA)

14 Renamo, Mozambique (today) Renamo claims that the Frelimo government of Mozambique has failed to honor the agreement that ended the civil war twenty years ago, specifically 1)The government failed to share the “national cake” 2) “ integrate the rebel forces into the national army

15 Rebel groups in Africa: EPLF (Eritrea) and RUF (Sierra Leone)  EPLF (Eritrea); social (against sectarian differences and foreign influence over ELF, stressed common national agenda); self-reliance in funding; educated, skilled recruits (superior to Ethiopian army), mixed linguistic, ethnic, religious groups (incl. Muslim & Christian); used costly induction and selective recruitment, built common national identity that superseded pre-existing identities & tribal loyalties  RUF (Sierra Leone); econ (diamond extraction; aided by Charles Taylor; originally started as social student org); absence of pol program & shared ethnic allegiances, the only goal was to maintain a flow of rewards; looting, destruction and violence gained them no civilian support; forced recruitment & material bribes  Shared: poor rural areas, opposed regimes that lacked legitimacy, both emerged from student movements  Contrast: recruitment pools Sierra Leone Eritrea

16 Differences in leadership & timing NRA & EPLF – social capital: linkages w/civilian population, disciplined behavior, defined pol agenda; EPLF provides the strongest evidence that leadership drives a rebel group’s membership profile & strategy RUF – a competitor with ideology never emerged Where econ endowments can be mobilized, rebel leaders are likely to emerge as dominant players x identity & ideology take longer to develop

17 Sierra Leone “Rebel troops of drug-crazed teenagers have hacked the limbs off thousands of civilians, including women and babies. Cold-blooded calculation fuels the rebels' insanity— the struggle for control of the country's diamond mines— including an agreement between international investors and the man who has terrorized his people.” Sebastian Junger, Vanity Fair R.U.F.

18 RUF under the leadership of Foday Sankoh claimed over 100,000 lives, calling their operation "No Living Thing," which included orders to children to butcher their own parents, conduct mass rapes and ritual bloodbaths. “The rebels chopped off the arms, legs or all the limbs of thousands of people. A population of amputees lives a life of misery in the slums of Freetown today.” After Charles Taylor seized power in Liberia (1996), he supported the civil war in Sierra Leone with arms shipments. He is the first former head of state convicted of war crimes by an international court since the Nuremburg trials after World War II; sentenced to 50 yrs He was convicted of backing rebels who killed tens of thousands during Sierra Leone's 1991-2002 civil war, but was cleared of the charge that he was giving the orders

19 Questions 1.According to Weinstein, high & low-commitment recruits are a) fixed categories and b) they are mutually exclusive – do you agree? 2.What is the impact of economic x social endowments on the individual’s motivation to fight? Do econ incentives trigger and drive mobilization? 3.W. argues that the level of advanced education is likely to be higher in groups recruiting by promises alone than in groups offering immediate payoffs. Does he imply that because of advanced education, they are more averse and will not defect when confronted by 1) unanticipated, generous payoffs, or 2) unexpected, gruesome civil war factors, such as increased violence, civilian deaths and human suffering? 4.What if the objective to capture state power changes during the conflict? Does the model then not apply? Or, what if the line between “insurgency” and “terrorist group” is not that clear (for example, when “state capture” is not an explicit objective of a rebel group)? 5.It is often said that ideologies that drove civil war during Cold War (competition for influence in the Third World) were replaced in the 21 st century by “business wars” (wars of econ opportunity in the shape of criminal activities), in many instances disguised as ethnic/religious wars. Do you agree? Why/why not? Other: Are economic endowments a curse for rebel groups? What have we learned about economic versus ideological imperatives as drivers of civil war? Can economic imperatives lead to shifts in ideological leanings?

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