Politics After War Conference on Rebel Inclusion and Democracy


The first Politics After War conference ‘Rebel group inclusion and the effects on democracy’ was held at Jesus College, Cambridge on 18-20 April 2018. The aim of the conference was to further the research agenda on the downstream effects of former rebel group inclusion in politics on democracy. The papers presented at the conference explored issues related to the connection between former rebel group political participation and democratic stability, representative democracy or good governance. The conference papers will be published in an edited book (co-edited by Gyda Sindre and John Ishiyama).

The papers focused on three overarching questions:

  • Is there a link between the transformation of armed groups into political actors and long-term peace and democratic stability?
  • Does former rebel group political participation deepen democracy by enhancing representation of formerly excluded minority groups?
  • What are the long-term effects of rebel group inclusion on the quality of democracy?

Programme and Papers

Session: Former rebel parties’ engagement with democracy: Interaction dynamics

Chair: Mimmi Söderberg Kovacs, Folke Bernadotte Academy 

  • How does the inclusion of post-rebel parties in electoral politics shape democracy in post-conflict countries?, Carrie Manning, Georgia State University (Discussant: Justin Pearce, University of Cambridge)
  • Adapting too well? The FMLN, electoral politics and clientelist governance in El Salvador, Ralph Sprenkels, Utrecht University (Discussant: Emma van Santen, University of Cambridge)
  • Virtual Politics, post-Islamism and authoritarian Inertia in post-conflict Tajikistan, Tim Epkenhans, Freiburg University (Discussant: Teije Hidde Donker, University of Cambridge)
  • Balancing patronage and popular democracy: Organizational survival and governance practices of (former) liberation movements turned multi-party contenders, Gyda M Sindre, University of Cambridge (Discussant: Lovise Aalen, CMI)

Session: Internal and external challenges to former rebel parties’ governance practices

Chair: Devon Curtis, University of Cambridge

  • Political Parties in De Facto States: Continued Reliance on External Patrons?Nina Caspersen, University of York (Discussant: Carrie Manning, Georgia State University)
  • Young and old rebels: Party systems and the youth in Africa’s post-war states, Aslak Orre, Ragnhild Muriaas and Lovise Aalen, Christian Michelsen Institute and University of Bergen (Discussant: Alice Mutabende, University of Cambridge)
  • From Rebels to (Bad) Politicians – Poor Governance and the Transformation of Sinn Féin and the IRA in Northern Ireland, Matthew Whiting, University of Birmingham (Discussant: Andrea Volfova, University of Cambridge)
  • Is democratic reform impeding the peace process in Myanmar? Dynamics of elite contestation and inter-ethnic competition, Ellen Stensrud, The Centre for the Study of Holocaust and Religious Minorities (Discussant: Mimmi Söderberg Kovacs, Folke Bernadotte Academy)

Session: What explains former rebel parties’ governance trajectories? 

Chair: Burcu Özcelik, University of Cambridge

  • Rebel Parties and Good Governance? Organizational Endowments, Ideology, and Governance after Civil Wars End, John Ishiyama, University of North Texas (Discussant: Nina Caspersen, University of York)
  • Rebel governance, peace settlements and post-war politics: Angola and Mozambique compared, Justin Pearce, University of Cambridge (Discussant: Aslak Orre, CMI)
  • How Do Civil War Successor Parties Govern? The Case of Militia-Tied Mayors in Colombia, Sarah Daly, University of Notre Dame (Discussant: John Ishiyama, University of North Texas)
  • Contingency, inclusion, and democracy: A critical analysis of rebel groups in Afghan state building process, Wahid Watnayar, University of Heidelberg (Discussant: Devon Curtis, University of Cambridge)

Session: Unfinished business: Rebel governance in no-settlement contexts 

Chair: Emma van Santen, University of Cambridge

  • Rebel Participation and Political Transition in Post-War Sri Lanka, Shama Ams, University of Cambridge (Discussant: Matthew Whiting, University of Birmingham)
  • From ‘Rebel Justice’ to the ‘Rule-of-Law’: Rebel Group inclusion and ‘Good Governance’, Benedetta Berti, NATO (Policy Planning) (Discussant: Burcu Özcelik, University of Cambridge)



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