I have five (5) research projects. One focuses on the dissertation. The School of Politics, Security, and International Affairs (SPSIA) funds the dissertation. Two hinges on the legacies of female combatants in Post-conflict Liberia. The United Nations University WIDER funds the second research. Three concentrates on terrorism. Four is security sector reform: a coup proofing mechanism within the Mano River Basin. Five is Kidnapping, Smuggling, and Drugging of children during armed conflicts in Sub-Saharan Africa.

  1. Violence against the noncombatant population especially women and children during civil war in sub-Saharan Africa

Why do groups resort to violence against non-combatants, especially women and children, during a civil war in sub-Saharan Africa? This dissertation develops a theory that analyzes the victimization of the civilian population during civil war. I argue that foreign support, the scramble for territory, and the distribution of power, are reasons that motivate the use of violence to perpetrate civil war in sub-Saharan Africa. I propose several hypotheses based on these arguments. H1: Groups with foreign support at the onset are more likely to resort to violence than groups without foreign support. H2: Groups with control over minor territory during interventions are more likely to resort to violence than groups with control over significant territory. H3: Groups with fewer slots during settlement are more likely to resort to violence than groups with more slots.

This research project consists of two qualitative levels. The first draws on data, and the second relies on multiple interviews with former combatants, refugees, internally displaced persons (IDPs), and citizens of Liberia. It focuses on both the victims and victimizers. It links evidence from the combatants and noncombatant population and draws on different data sources to test the hypotheses. I collect data for each group that participated in these civil wars to examine the efficacy of the hypotheses. Both data analyses contribute to a qualitative case study of Liberia, generalizable to other parts of sub-Saharan Africa.

The Liberian case brings insight into the study of armed conflict. It identifies what the combatants and civilians say regarding violence. This case is being investigated with new data that will inform my research. It is looked at systemically along with in-depth interviews. It intends to connect the dots between the combatants and non-combatants population in Liberia. Several studies focus on western influence on civil war or groups, but not on civil wars in sub-Saharan Africa. For example, some studies focus on groups such as the IRA in Ireland rather than the NPFL in Liberia. Most studies on civil wars are more quantitative rather than qualitative in data analysis. This study fills the gap by conducting a historical analysis of violence during two civil wars in Liberia. This empirical approach compares groups violence during two civil wars (CW1 and CW2) to derive the findings.

This dissertation contributes to the general literature on terrorist violence and civil war. It seeks to increase our understanding of violence during a civil war. It aims to grasp and offer some support for the motives of violence across sub-Saharan Africa to prevent any reoccurrence. Understanding group motives may allow other actors to intervene to prevent the spread of conflict. It may help guide the international community toward policies that are more effective in reducing violence against noncombatants. It may assist policymakers during negotiations and addressing challenges to peace and security. For detail on this project, please go to the menu and select dissertation.

2. The legacies of female combatants in Post-conflict Liberia

This research project focuses on the nexus between females as combatants during Liberia’s two civil wars and females as actors in Liberia’s post-civil war context. The current literature determines females’ role in rebel groups’ governance, emphasizing how females operate within the command structure. Likewise, the literature on pre-war political mobilization indicates how rebel groups mobilize supporters to produce violence during armed conflict. While there is a growing trend in research assessing the role of female combatants in organized armed groups, there are few accounts regarding the role of former female combatants in a post-conflict society. This is an important, albeit under-explored, mechanism because most post-conflict institutions tend to mirror the nature and scope of warring groups. Using in-depth interview data, combined with external data, we examine connections between females’ wartime roles and their political influence in post-war Liberia. We argue that the experiences of female combatants during the Liberian civil wars, in combination with other wartime roles of female activists, make them assume more significant responsibilities after the wars. We explicitly emphasize rebel strategies to legitimize their existence and the extent to which they institutionalized military power and transformed it into political domination after the war in Liberia. Dr. Daniel Banini is my co-author on this project.

3. Security Sector Reform (SSR): a coup proofing mechanism in the Mano River Union (MRU).

Why do some countries experience coups and others not after long-standing armed conflicts within the same region, particularly the Mano River Union (MRU)? This article links security sector reform (SSR) to coup-proofing mechanisms through an overview of coups and coups’ plots within the MRU. It predicts that countries that did not attempt or conduct SSR at the end of long-lasting conflicts are more likely to experience coups than countries that carry out SSR. Comparing countries within the region, I find that Liberia and Sierra Leone are less likely to experience coups than Guinea and Ivory Coast, which did not consider overhauling their security institutions under the auspices of SSR.  

4. who are terrorists: combatants or criminals?

The current literature reveals that the classification of terrorists as criminals is based on the criminal element, incredibly violent attacks. At the same time, the classification as combatants resonates with military force against terrorist groups. To be clear, the pros’ primary contention is that terrorists are criminals, while the cons argue that terrorists are combatants. While there is a growing trend in research assessing the link between terrorists as combatants and criminals, there are few accounts regarding the role of the US criminal justice system in the prosecution of terrorist and terrorist suspects. I argue that the US criminal justice system extends beyond borders to prosecute terrorists and terrorist suspects.

This argument is tittered along three major lines: The first reason is the emerging role and responsibility of the military that requires the extension of the rule of law institutions to complement the military in its expansion. Secondly, the credibility and competence of the US justice system regarding acquittals and convictions are the hallmarks of any current justice system. Thirdly, the world is interconnected (one world) with shared problems, concerns, challenges, and threats that require joint or collective efforts. Thus, expanding the US criminal justice system beyond borders is a major step towards a global solution to dissuade threats, especially terrorism.

5. Kidnapping, Smuggling, and Drugging of children during armed conflicts in sub-Saharan Africa

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