The legacy of war: The effect of militias on postwar repression

Publikation: Beiträge in ZeitschriftenZeitschriftenaufsätzeForschungbegutachtet


How do wartime legacies affect repression after the conflict ends? Irregular forces support the government in many civil wars. We argue that if this link continues after the war, respect for human rights declines. As “tried and tested” agents they are less likely to shirk when given the order to repress. Governments might also keep the militias as a “fall-back option”, which results in more repression. Analyzing data from 1981 to 2014 shows that pro-government militias that were inherited from the previous conflict are consistently associated with worse repression, but newly created ones are not. Wartime pro-government militias target a broader spectrum of the population and are linked to worse state violence. New militias usually supplement wartime ones and use violence primarily against political opponents. This study highlights the detrimental impact of war legacies.

ZeitschriftConflict Management and Peace Science
Seiten (von - bis)247-269
Anzahl der Seiten23
PublikationsstatusErschienen - 05.2021

Bibliographische Notiz

Funding Information:
We thank participants at the workshops ?Tactics in conflict? at the University of Konstanz in 2017 and ?Micro-level perspectives on peace? at the University of Birmingham in 2018, and are particularly grateful to Kristin Bakke, Scott Gates, Christian Glaessel, Elizabeth Nugent, Katrin Paula, Gerald Schneider, Reed Wood and the three anonymous reviewers for their valuable feedback. The authors disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article. This work was supported by the European Research Council under the European Union?s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013)/ERC grant agreement no. 336019.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2020.