Territorial takeover & event data

with Christian Oswald, Melanie Sauter, and Rob Williams.

Do rebels target civilians as part of the process of establishing control in their territories?

Our research shows that transition periods after rebels gain territorial control are remarkably violent for civilians. Speaking to the civilian victimization and rebel governance literature, we investigate the immediate time period after rebels successfully capture and hold territory. We argue that rebels use violence to gain compliance in newly captured territories until they are able to build up local capacities and institutions for peaceful governance. To test this argument, we draw on methodological advances in integrating event data and combine multiple datasets to study patterns of violence perpetrated by the Revolutionary United Front in Sierra Leone from 1997-2001. The findings of our spatiotemporal analysis show that civilian targeting increases in the period after rebels capture territory from the government compared to areas without territorial takeover, suggesting that life under the roof of rebels is initially more dangerous for civilians.

Event distribution of territorial takeovers, battles, and civilian targeting in Sierra Leone

Article: Oswald, Christian, Melanie Sauter, Sigrid Weber, and Rob Williams. 2020. “Under the Roof of Rebels: Civilian Targeting After Territorial Takeover in Sierra Leone.” International Studies Quarterly 64 (2): 295–305. Article , Blog post , Request access.

Sigrid Weber
Postdoctoral Fellow