Scott Gates – University of Oslo.

Amnesty as a Weapon of War.


Governments challenged by insurgent groups use a variety of tactics during their fight. In addition to military strategies, governments use non-violent tactics aimed at influencing the course of the conflict and its outcome. One of the important conflict goals of a government is to increase defections from the rebel group in order to weaken that group’s fighting and mobilization capacity. In this paper, we examine the government use of amnesty offers to accomplish these goals. Our model focuses on the micro-mechanisms motivating rebel defections and demonstrates that amnesty can be used as a tool to facilitate desertions among rank and file challengers. We test the derived hypotheses from our model using data on amnesty processes implemented during armed conflicts between 1946 and 2011. We find that governments are in fact more likely to offer amnesty under conditions where individual rebels may seek outside protection and use amnesties to defect.

coauthors: Cyanne Loyle (Penn State) and Helga Binningsbø (PRIO)

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