Integrated Militias Can Increase the Risk of Civil War Renewal

Research on civil war identified multiple reason for why some transitions to peace are more robust than others. However, scholars largely ignored a key determinant of successful peace: the role of pro-government militias and their absorption into the new or recovering state. Using new data on 160 pro-government organizations (PGOs) in 144 post-civil-war contexts, we show that integrating PGOs into the security apparatus significantly shifts the hazard of conflict renewal over time upward, while integrating them into the government decreases said risk. Substantively, by year 12, security-integrated contexts are at a staggering 45% higher risk of experiencing conflict renewal compared with non-security integrated contexts, while politically integrated contexts are at a 21% lower risk of experiencing conflict renewal compared with non-politically integrated contexts. Disaggregating renewal by context, we additionally find that the adverse impact of security integration is especially acute in government victory and bargained outcome contexts; in contrast, rebel victory contexts show no effect of security integration, but a negative and statistical impact of political integration on the hazard of renewal. We conclude with a brief discussion of the implications for research and policymaking.

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