From Rebels to Statesmen?

The Transformation of Rebel Groups to Political Parties in Civil War Peace Processes

Project Leader Mimmi Söderberg Kovacs, Ph.D. Candidate

Project Period

2001- 2006

Contact Person

Mimmi Söderberg Kovacs

Project Description

The dissertation project is concerned with conflict resolution processes in intra-state armed conflict and the fate of former rebel groups in transitions from war to peace.

The following research question is addressed: Why do some rebel groups in civil wars successfully transform to peaceful political parties in the post-settlement period while others do not? The transformation of former warring armies to political actors has been identified as one of the most essential factors in explaining the successful implementation of civil war peace agreements. The price to pay for the failure of political inclusion of the insurgents in the post-settlement peace building phase is at worst the return to armed conflict and a breakdown of that agreement and at best continued political violence and a latent threat to long term political stability and democratic development.

However, no study has hitherto examined under what conditions such transformation of the warring actors is likely to occur and why it is more likely to occur in some cases but not in others. This puzzle is of great relevance to both researchers and policy makers concerned with understanding the factors that facilitate a transition to both peaceful and democratic politics in the aftermath of a protracted armed conflict in a weak or failed state.

The dissertation project has a theory building approach and will use structured focused comparison as the methodological design. A comparative study of the fate of four rebel organisations is conducted; FMLN in El Salvador, Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, Renamo in Mozambique and RUF in Sierra Leone.

Publications

“From Armed Insurgents to Political Parties. A Comparative Study of Renamo in Mozambique and RUF in Sierra Leone”, second draft for the book project Conflict and Conflict Resolution in Africa, edited by Thomas Ohlson. Paper presented at workshop in Uppsala, 24-26 October, 2005.

”Fractions, Followers and Friends. From Rebels to Statesmen in Civil War Peace Processes”. Paper presented at the International Studies Association’s 46th Annual Convention, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA, 3 March 2005.

“The Quest for Legitimacy- The Transformation of Rebel Groups to Political Parties in Civil War Peace Processes. A Comparative Study of Renamo in Mozambique and RUF in Sierra Leone”. Paper presented at the International Studies Association’s 45th Annual Convention, Montreal, Canada, 20 March, 2004.

“From Rebels to Statesmen. The transformation of rebel groups to political parties in civil war peace processes- a conceptual framework”. Paper presented at the International Political Science Association’s 19th World Congress in Durban, South Africa, July 4, 2003.

Other Project Activities

Pre-doctoral fellow with the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, February-June 2004

Main Financial Support

Faculty of the Social Sciences, Uppsala Universitet