My research in this area seeks to better understand the implementation and functioning of justice institutions both during and after conflict and a government’s role in asserting control through these processes.
“Escaping Justice: Concealing Impunity for State Crimes”.
Now more than ever the international community is playing a role in pressing governments to hold their own to account. Movements in support of human rights have helped to spur global pressure for individual accountability for the violations of those rights, what Kathryn Sikkink calls the ‘justice cascade’. Despite pressure to adhere to global human rights norms, governments continue to benefit from impunity for their past crimes and have an incentive to structure institutions to help them escape justice. How does this outcome persist? Escaping Justice is a study of the process through which accountability for state crimes is pursued or denied based on extensive fieldwork in Rwanda, Northern Ireland, and Uganda. Escaping Justice presents a typology of accountability in which the strategy a government engages is a product of the balance of power between government elites and domestic and international civil society. Research in each of the three country cases reveals a unique strategy of accountability: coercion, concession, and cooptation. I use evidence from these cases to trace the complexity of violence in these countries and how the government’s resulting accountability strategy is driven by the pressure that domestic and international civil society is able to bring to bear.
Work In Progress
- “Justice During Armed Conflict: Addressing Grievance or Projecting State Strength”
Governments challenged by violent insurgent groups use a variety of tactics during their fight. Commonly used are judicial and quasi-judicial processes, adopted to address wrongdoings committed during the war. These processes include trials, truth commissions, reparations, amnesties, purges, and exiles. In 58% of the 204 internal armed conflicts since WWII the government initiated at least one type of during-conflict justice (DCJ) process. What accounts for the prevalence of these processes during-conflict and what is their intended objective? In this paper, I argue that governments use DCJ in an attempt to undermine support for rebel organizations through encouraging defections among rebels and rebel supporters. I test this argument using new data collected on DCJ processes implemented between 1946 and 2011.
- “Prosecution, Punishment, or Persecution? Gacaca, Justice, and the Elimination of Rwandan Political Challengers” with Christian Davenport and Priyamvada Trivedi.
In 2001, the government of Rwanda began a pilot to test the efficacy of a community justice program, Gacaca, which would serve as the primary mechanism for accountability and reconciliation for rank-and-file participants of the genocide in 1994. Using data on Gacaca prosecutions and mass political violence, we test competing arguments regarding the use and/or mis-use of Gacaca. From our analysis, we find that rather than advancing accountability through prosecutions as the international community had hoped by targeting areas that engaged in the largest amount of genocide violence, Gacaca has generally served as a tool of state repression targeting areas of threat to the government and eliminating potential political rivals by following demographic concentrations of young men.
- “Amnesty as a Weapon of War: Government Strength and Justice Processes During Conflict” with Scott Gates and Helga Malmin Binningsbø.
- “Justice during armed conflict from 1949 through 2011: A new dataset” with Helga Malmin Binningsbø. Journal of Conflict Resolution 62(2): 2018.
- “Transitional Justice and Political Order in Rwanda.” Ethnic and Racial Studies 41(4): 2018.
- “Post-Conflict Justice and Conflict Recurrence: Addressing Motivations and Opportunities for Sustainable Peace” with Benjamin Appel. International Studies Quarterly 61(3): 2017.
- “Transitional InJustice: Subverting Justice in Transition and Post-Conflict Societies” with Christian Davenport. Journal of Human Rights 15(1): 2016.
- “Armed Conflict and Post-Conflict Justice, 1946-2006: A Dataset” with Helga Malmin Binningsbø, Jon Elster and Scott Gates. Journal of Peace Research 49(5) September 2012.
- “The Economic Benefits of Justice: Post-Conflict Justice Foreign Direct Investment” with Benjamin Appel. Journal of Peace Research 49(5) September 2012.
My research in this area seeks to better understand governance and legitimacy by rebel groups. I am particularly intersted in judicial and quaisi-jusdicial process and their longterm impacts.
Work in Progress
- "Laws And Order: The Impact of Rebel Governance on Post-Conflict Rule of Law"
What are the long-term impacts of rebel judicial systems on post-conflict rule of law? The study of rebel governance has focused primarily on the rationale for the use of rebel institutions and the impact of those choices on the conflict itself. Rebel courts and judicial systems can be pervasive institutions in the lives of the rebels who operate them and the citizens living under their jurisdiction. As such, these processes can have long term implications for the independence and functioning of the state judicial system once conflict has ended. Using new data on rebel judiciaries across armed conflicts from 1946 through 2017, this paper examines variation in the structure, transparency, and civilian engagement of rebel courts in order to better understand the ways in which these courts impact the long-term functioning of the post-conflict judiciary. A study of rebel courts expands our knowledge of rebel governance and further informs plans for judicial reform following armed conflict.
- "Revolt and Rule: Learning about Governance from Rebel Groups" International Studies Review
- "New Directions in Rebel Governance Reserach" Perspectives on Politics
- "Rebel Justice during Armed Conflict" Journal of Conflict Resolution 65(1) 2020.
- "Introduction to the Special Feature on Dynamic Process of Rebel Governance" with Kathleen Cunningham Journal of Conflict Resolution 65(1) 2020.
- "#rebel: Rebel communication strategies in the age of social media" with Sameul Bestvater Conflict Management and Peace Science 36(6) 2019.
State Repression and Human Rights
My research focuses on patterns of state repression in Northern Ireland and around the world, as well as the perpetrators of those violations.
Work In Progress
- “Without a Trace: Enforced Disappearance as a Strategy During Armed Conflict”
In this study, I investigate the tactic of enforced disappearance during armed conflict using subnational data on over 1,800 disappearances during the civil war in Nepal between the government and the Maoists. I demonstrate that the use of this tactic varies according to the state reach in a given area. In particular, I find that enforced disappearances are more likely in areas of conflict where the state has little formal presence or ability to gather intelligence.
- “Some Left to Tell the Tale: Finding Perpetrators, Understanding Violence & Missing Rwandan Murders in the Middle” with Christian Davenport. Journal of Peace Research 57(4) 2020.
- “The Northern Ireland Research Initiative: Data on the Troubles from 1968-1998” with Christopher Sullivan and Christian Davenport. Conflict Management and Peace Science 31(1) February 2014.
- “The Coercive Weight of the Past: Temporal Dependence in the Conflict-Repression Nexus” with Christopher Sullivan and Christian Davenport. International Interactions 38(4): August 2012.
- “Transforming Men Into Killers: Attitudes leading to hands-on violence during the 1994 Rwandan Genocide” with Dr. Reva Adler, Dr. J. Globerman and Dr. E. Larson. Global Public Health 3(3) July 2008: 291-307.
- “A Calamity in the Neighborhood: Women’s Participation in the Rwanda Genocide” with Reva Adler and J. Globerman. Genocide Studies and Prevention 2(3) Winter 2008: 209-234.
My field research in Rwanda, Northern Ireland, Uganda, Turkey, and Nepal has been challenging and at times dangerous. These experiences have led me to reflect on the obstacles to research in restrictive regimes.
“Research-Related Trauma in the Social Sciences: Problems and solutions”
Despite dynamic discussions of research methods within the Social Sciences, there has been comparatively little attention paid to the possibility and effect of research-related trauma—the trauma experienced by individuals working on issues and data related to violence and death. There are many activities within the fields of Social Science which put members of the profession directly at risk for this form of trauma. Furthermore, this is not just relevant for individuals conducting fieldwork, but also those scholars working with quantitative data and in data archives. Research-Related Trauama in the Social Sciences introduces researchers to the concept of research-related trauma including how to identify it in themselves and others. I draw attention to the possible risks of research-related trauma for scholars, graduate students, and research team members. This manuscript surveys some of the best practices in mitigating and remediating research-related trauma with the goal of better supporting scholars.