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“Rebels With a Cause”

13 April 2011

A rebel stands guard as another places a Kingdom of Libya flag at a state security building during a protest against Muammar Gaddafi in Benghazi March 8, 2011. Shared with cc license from Flickr.

Friend and former grad school colleague Zachariah Mampilly has written on the Libyan and Ivorian rebels in today’s Foreign Affairs, titled “Rebels With a Cause.” Zach’s dissertation (and now book manuscript) concerns rebel governance, looking at the cases of DRC, Sudan, Uganda, and Sri Lanka.  He defines rebel governance in the Foreign Affairs piece:

Loosely defined, “rebel governance” refers to the development of official structures and practices to regulate social and political life. This system can include a police force and judicial structure, health and educational systems, a tax regime to regulate commercial activities, and even representative structures that give civilians a voice in governing themselves. Likewise, symbolic practices, such as the adoption of flags or national anthems, also lend the rebels legitimacy.

In addition to being incredibly interesting, Zach’s work has important implications for how we might think about civil conflict. In particular, his work suggests we ought to think about who should be at the table when negotiating:

Today, the anti-Qaddafi rebellion in Libya offers a new opportunity to examine the process of engaging with rebel governments. A formal system of recognition would not only allay concerns about the United States’ motives in intervening but also offer some measure of protection to the country’s civilians.

Relatedly, another paper of his (earlier, ungated version here) should make us stop to think as well about the challenges of humanitarian assistance during conflict.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Zachariah permalink
    14 April 2011 9:26 am

    Thanks for the plug Kim. And of course, for the feedback on the project itself back in the day…

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