REBEL AUDIENCE COSTS AND CHILD SOLDIERS: EXPLORING THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN POLITICAL MOVEMENTS, REBEL LEADER ELECTIONS, AND FORCIBLE RECRUITMENT
AuthorSheets, Ryan Brent
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThe forced recruitment of child soldiers is a widespread practice employed by rebel groups around the world. What determines when rebel groups engage in this brutal strategy? We argue that it depends on their susceptibility to audience costs imposed by the local community. Rebel groups that rely on local constituencies for food, funds, and shelter have a strong incentive to maintain their support base and refrain from abusive practices like the forced recruitment of children. Utilizing data from three distinct datasets, we test the effect of political movement parent organizations and rebel leader elections on the forced recruitment of child soldiers. We demonstrate empirically that rebel groups that are founded from political movements are less likely to forcibly recruit child soldiers. Our analysis also shows that when combined, groups that both form out of political movements and hold elections as a form of leader ascension are far less likely to engage in forced child soldier recruitment. We argue that our explanatory variables indicate an underlying susceptibility to audience costs and that our results demonstrate the importance of audience costs in rebel group strategy and the perpetration of human rights abuses.
Degree ProgramPolitical Science