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Civil Wars

African Democracy and Development: Challenges for Post-Conflict African Nations


Veney, Cassandra Rachel, and Dick W. Simpson, ed. 2013. African Democracy and Development: Challenges for Post-Conflict African Nations. Lanham: Lexington Books.

Authors: Cassandra Veney, Dick Simpson


Various African nations have undergone conflict situations since they gained their independence. This book focuses on particular countries that have faced conflict (civil wars and genocide) and are now in the process of rebuilding their political, economic, social, and educational institutions. The countries that are addressed in the book include: Rwanda, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In addition, there is a chapter that addresses the role of the African Diaspora in conflict and post-conflict countries that include Eritrea, Liberia, and Somalia. The book includes an examination of the various actors who are involved in post-conflict rebuilding and reconstruction that involves internal and external participants. For example, it is clear that the internal actors involve Africans themselves as ordinary citizens, members of local and national governments, and members of non-governmental organizations. This allows the reader to understand the agency and empowerment of Africans in post-conflict reconstruction. Various institutions are addressed within the context of the roles they play in establishing governance organizations such as the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Sierra Leone, the African Union, chiefs in Liberia, and non-governmental organizations. Furthermore, the external actors who are involved in post-conflict reconstruction are examined such as international non-governmental organizations and the African Diaspora. They both have their own constituents and agendas and can and do play a positive and negative role in post-conflict reconstruction. It is obvious that countries that are addressed in the book are in dire need of financial assistant to rebuild much needed infrastructure that was destroyed during the conflict. All of the countries covered in the book need schools, medical facilities, roads, bridges, airports, ports, and the government does not have the money to provide these. This is where the international non-governmental organizations and the African Diaspora play an important role. The chapters that address these issues are cognizant of their importance and at the same time, the authors realize that sovereignty can be undermined if Africans are not in the forefront of policy and decision making that will determine their future. There are chapters that provide a gendered analysis of post-conflict when it is appropriate. For example, it is clear that women, men, boys, and girls experienced conflict in different ways because of their gender. They all participated in the conflict in various ways. Consequently, the efforts at peace building are given a gendered analysis in terms of what has happened to women and girls in the demobilization and rehabilitation period including an excellent analysis of land reform in Rwanda and how that affects women and members of a certain ethnic group that are often overlooked in the examination of the 1994 genocide. In sum, this book provides a very good contribution to the literature on conflict and post-conflict African countries because of its depth and the vast topics it embraces. It provides an analysis of the internal and external actors, the role of gender in post-conflict decision making, and it provides the voices of ordinary Africans who were affected by the conflict, and who are determined to live productive lives. (Summary from Google Books)
Table of Contents:
Introduction / Cassandra R. Veney --
No justice, no peace : the elusive search for justice and reconciliation in Sierra Leone / Sylvia Macauley --
The role of ex-combatants in Mozambique / Jessica Schafer --
Memory controversies in post-genocide Rwanda : implications for peacebuilding / Elisabeth King --
Land reform, social justice, and reconstruction : challenges for post-genocide Rwanda / Helen Hintjens --
Elections as a stress test of democratization in societies : a comparison of Liberia, Sierra Leone, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo / John Yoder --
Partners or adversaries? : NGOs and the state in postwar Sierra Leone / Fredline A.O. M'Cormack-Hale --
Chieftancy and reconstruction in Sierra Leone / Arthur Abraham --
The role of African diasporas in reconstruction / Paul Tiyambe Zeleza --
The role of the African Union in reconstruction in Africa / Thomas Kwasi Tieku --
Governance challenges in Sierra Leone / Osman Gbla --
Challenges of governance reform in Liberia / Amos Sawyer --
Achieving development and democracy / Dick Simpson


Topics: Armed Conflict, Civil Wars, Combatants, DDR, Gender, Women, Girls, Gender Analysis, Genocide, Governance, Infrastructure, Transportation, International Organizations, Justice, NGOs, Peacebuilding, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction Regions: Africa, Central Africa, East Africa, Southern Africa, West Africa Countries: Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eritrea, Liberia, Mozambique, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Somalia

Year: 2013

The Masculine Logic of DDR and SSR in the Rwanda Defence Force


Duriesmith, David, and Georgina Holmes. 2019. “The Masculine Logic of DDR and SSR in the Rwanda Defence Force.” Security Dialogue 50 (4): 361–79.

Authors: David Duriesmith, Georgina Holmes


Since the 1994 genocide and civil war, the Rwandan government has implemented an externally funded disarmament, demobilization and reintegration/security sector reform (DDR/SSR) programme culminating in the consolidation of armed groups into a new, professionalized Rwanda Defence Force. Feminists argue that DDR/SSR initiatives that exclude combatant women and girls or ignore gendered security needs fail to transform the political conditions that led to conflict. Less attention has been paid to how gendered relations of power play out through gender-sensitive DDR and SSR initiatives that seek to integrate women and transform hyper-masculine militarized masculinities. This article investigates how Rwanda’s DDR/SSR programme is governed by an oppressive masculine logic. Drawing on critical studies on men and masculinities and feminist work on peacebuilding, myths and the politics of belonging, it argues that Rwanda’s locally owned DDR/SSR programme places the military and militarization at the centre of the country’s nation-building programme. Through various ‘boundary-construction’ practices, the Rwandan government attempts to stabilize the post-1994 gender order and entrench the hegemony of a new militarized masculinity in Rwandan society. The case study draws on field research conducted in 2014 and 2015 and a discourse analysis of historical accounts, policy documents and training materials of the Rwanda Defence Force.

Keywords: DDR, gender, militarization, peacebuilding, Rwanda, SSR

Topics: Armed Conflict, Civil Wars, Combatants, Female Combatants, DDR, Feminisms, Gender, Masculinity/ies, Gendered Power Relations, Genocide, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militarization, Peacebuilding, Post-Conflict, Security Sector Reform Regions: Africa, Central Africa, East Africa Countries: Rwanda

Year: 2019

A Seat at the Table Is Not Enough: Understanding Women’s Substantive Representation in Peace Processes


Ellerby, Kara. 2016. “A Seat at the Table Is Not Enough: Understanding Women’s Substantive Representation in Peace Processes.” Peacebuilding 4 (2): 136–50.

Author: Kara Ellerby


While the international community stresses the importance of including women at the peace table so peace processes will better represent their needs and interests, it is unclear what specifically this inclusion entails. Do women need to be negotiators, mediators? Do peace agreements adequately represent women’s interests when women are included? This article engages UNSC Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security as a framework through which to assess peace processes and agreements. A woman-focused examination of all civil war peace processes reveals that less than 10% meet women’s inclusion as envisioned in UNSCR 1325. This article focuses on the three conditions accounting for women’s substantive representation in peacebuilding. What emerges are three joint necessities: an explicit women’s agenda; access to the peace process; and advocacy within the process. The final sections problematise how even in all of these positive cases women had to fight to participate.

Keywords: women, gender, representation, stakeholders, UNSCR 1325

Topics: Armed Conflict, Civil Wars, Gender, Women, Peacebuilding, Political Participation, UN Security Council Resolutions on WPS, UNSCR 1325

Year: 2016

A Political Culture of Feminist Resistance: Exploring Women's Agency and Gender Dynamics in Yemen's Uprising (2011-15)


Strzelecka, Ewa K. 2018. "A Political Culture of Feminist Resistance: Exploring Women’s Agency and Gender Dynamics in Yemen’s Uprising (2011-15)." In Yemen and the Search for Stability: Power, Politics and Society after the Arab Spring, edited by Marie-Christine Heinze, 47-70. London: Bloomsbury Publishing. 

Author: Ewa K. Strzelecka


"...The purpose of this chapter is to address the gender dynamics of power in Yemen's revolutionary struggle for change. The discussion is carried out from the perspective of a new feminist scholarship, which shifts the focus of attention 'from a theoretical figure of patriarchy and exclusion to an analysis of the dynamic processes of women's participation in civil society and in public political life' (Siim 2000:2). This process must be contextualized. Therefore, my argument starts from a critical analysis of mechanisms of oppression and repression against women in Yemen and later explores the ways in which Yemeni activists respond and resist that oppression, producing what I call a 'political culture of feminist resistance.' It is my premise that resistance not only implies 'acting in opposition' but also reflects the 'potential for subversion and contestation in the interstices of establishes of established orders' (Kandiyoti 1998: 141). Feminist resistance, in particular, aims at subverting the dominant patriarchal structures of power. It implies collective and individual actions that promote social change in advancement of equality and justice for women. Although consolidation of feminist gains and the successful implementation of women's rights and freedoms in the aftermath of the Yemeni uprising have yet to be determined, my intention is to highlight the role of women's rights activists as agents of change, capable of influencing socio-political transformation and challenging gender power relations.

My study focuses on specific groups of revolutionary female activists who are highly motivated and actively dedicated to improving women's rights and gender justice, within a broader goal of seeking social change towards a new culture of democracy and human rights in Yemen. Most of them are urban and well-educated, middle or upper class women, who became women's rights activists as a result of the strength of their feminist consciousness. In their journey of personal and collective empowerment, they rebelled against patriarchal culture and enhanced their own strategies and actions for change, which went beyond the reductive oppositions of religious/secular, Islamist/liberal, traditional/modern, but were still struggling to deal effectively with different forms of violence that contributes substantially to the oppression of women in Yemen... (Strzelecka 2018, 48)." 

Topics: Armed Conflict, Civil Wars, Feminisms, Gender, Gendered Discourses, Gendered Power Relations, Patriarchy, Gender Equality/Inequality, Livelihoods, Rights, Women's Rights, Violence Regions: MENA, Asia, Middle East Countries: Yemen

Year: 2018

Female Combatants and the Post-Conflict Process in Sierra Leone


Cullen, Laura C. 2020. "Female Combatants and the Post-Conflict Process in Sierra Leone." Journal of International Women's Studies 21 (2): 114-125.

Author: Laura C. Cullen


Women and girls had a specific and gendered experience of the civil war in Sierra Leone. They filled the role of combatants, ‘bush wives’, child soldiers, and sexual slaves. As a result of these roles, women are often described as having dual identities of both perpetrators and victims of violence. This duality resulted in the complex question of how to help these women both reintegrate into society and also address the crimes which they are alleged to have committed during the war. In this paper, I argue that these women and girls should be treated as victims due to the fact that their crimes were committed under coercion. I investigate the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) process, performing a critique of its gendered assumptions and its inability to provide adequate assistance to females coerced into combat. I perform a critical analysis of the formation and efficacy of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). I investigate the Special Court’s treatment of the women and girls who were victims coerced into war and potentially held responsible as if they were perpetrators. In doing so, critical deconstruction of the treatment of these women highlights both the hybrid court’s successes and failures in advocating for these women. Throughout the paper, I explore the question of how the post-conflict reconstruction process should treat women and girls, who are victims but who have discursively been positioned also as perpetrators.

Keywords: female combatants, women combatants, Special Court for Sierra Leone, bush wives, DDR, child soldiers, post-conflict resolutions, international criminal justice, hybrid courts, gendered assumptions in the post-conflict process

Topics: Armed Conflict, Civil Wars, Combatants, Child Soldiers, Female Combatants, DDR, Gender, Women, Girls, Justice, International Tribunals & Special Courts, TRCs, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction, Sexual Violence, Sexual Slavery Regions: Africa, West Africa Countries: Sierra Leone

Year: 2020

The Positivist Study of Gender and International Relations


Reiter, Dan. 2015. "The Positivist Study of Gender and International Relations." The Journal of Conflict Resolution 59 (7): 1301-26. 

Author: Dan Reiter


Up until about 2000, most of the work on gender and international relations (IR) was nonpositivist in nature. Since 2000, there has been a burst of positivist gender/IR scholarship, much of it quantitative. This work has addressed several important areas in IR, including terrorism, interstate war, human rights, civil war, violence against civilians, public opinion, international norms, globalization, and others. Much of this work has developed new data, advanced theory, and employed rigorous empirical methods. This article surveys this positivist scholarship. It discusses how positivist and nonpositivist gender/IR work complement each other. This article makes recommendations about directions for future scholarship on gender and IR.

Keywords: war, civilian casualties, civil wars, terrorism

Topics: Armed Conflict, Civil Wars, Feminisms, Gender, Rights, Human Rights, Terrorism

Year: 2015

Why Now? Timing Rebel Recruitment of Female Combatants


Israelsen, Shelli. 2020. "Why Now? Timing Rebel Recruitment of Female Combatants." Studies in Conflict & Terrorism 43 (2): 123-44.

Author: Shelli Israelsen


Using case study evidence, this article demonstrates how the relationship between conflict intensity, gender inclusive ideologies and gender inclusive policies on one hand, and the decision to recruit female combatants on the other hand, is conditioned by the groups' conflict phase. Conflict phases divide conflict events into two distinct parts, the guerrilla activity phase and the civil war phase, contingent on the insurgents' number of armed fighters, military capabilities, level of institutionalization and degree of territorial control. These conflict phases affect the recruitment behavior of insurgent groups making them more likely to recruit female combatants in the civil war phase and less likely to do so in the guerrilla activity phase.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Civil Wars, Combatants, Female Combatants, Conflict, Gender, Military Forces & Armed Groups

Year: 2020

Insurgent Women: Female Combatants in Civil Wars


Darden, Jessica Trisko, Alexis Henshaw, and Ora Szekely. 2019. Insurgent Women: Female Combatants in Civil Wars. Washington, D.C: Georgetown University Press.

Authors: Jessica Trisko Darden, Alexis Henshaw, Ora Szekely


Why do women go to war? Despite the reality that female combatants exist the world over, we still know relatively little about who these women are, what motivates them to take up arms, how they are utilized by armed groups, and what happens to them when war ends. This book uses three case studies to explore variation in women's participation in nonstate armed groups in a range of contemporary political and social contexts: the civil war in Ukraine, the conflicts involving Kurdish groups in the Middle East, and the civil war in Colombia. In particular, the authors examine three important aspects of women's participation in armed groups: mobilization, participation in combat, and conflict cessation. In doing so, they shed light on women's pathways into and out of nonstate armed groups. They also address the implications of women's participation in these conflicts for policy, including postconflict programming. This is an accessible and timely work that will be a useful introduction to another side of contemporary conflict.

Table of Contents:
1. Ukraine: Defending the Motherland

2. The Kurdish Regions: Fighting as Kurds, Fighting as Women

3. Colombia: Women Waging War and Peace

Topics: Armed Conflict, Civil Wars, Combatants, Female Combatants, Conflict, Post-Conflict, Peacebuilding Regions: MENA, Americas, South America, Asia, Middle East, Europe, Eastern Europe Countries: Colombia, Iraq, Ukraine

Year: 2019

A Feminist Analysis of the Reconciliation Process in Post-Conflict Sri Lanka


Sonal, Shruti, and Ninghtoujam Koiremba. 2019. "A Feminist Analysis of the Reconciliation Process in Post-Conflict Sri Lanka." International Journal of Social Science and Economic Research 4 (3): 1615-29.

Authors: Shruti Sonal, Ninghtoujam Koiremba


Feminist scholars like Cynthia Enloe, Ann Tickner and Urvashi Butalia have contributed to creating a more nuanced approach to concerns of international relations such as war and security by highlighting the gendered experiences of conflict and reconstruction. This has been translated into legal frameworks at the international level, including the much-lauded UNSC Resolution 1325 which reaffirms the important role of women in the prevention and resolution of conflicts. Several other attempts have been made to stress the importance of their equal participation and full involvement in all efforts for the maintenance and promotion of peace and security. However, the application of feminist ethics has not yet been given priority in the realm of reconciliation and transitional justice in post-conflict societies. While there's an unanimous understanding that women experience conflict and respond to violence and deprivation in ways different from that of men, the concerns of women are often overshadowed in post-conflict reconciliation as issues of cessation of violence, infrastructural rebuilding and economic recovery occupy centrestage. There's a growing recognition of the fact that the ways in which conflict changes men’s and women’s roles, needs, and capacities must be taken into account to ensure successful and sustainable reconstruction and reconciliation in post-conflict societies.It is in this context that the paper will analyse the post-conflict reconciliation process in Sri Lanka from a feminist perspective. It will analyse how the two-decade long civil war in the country affected women, both as victims of abuse, heads of families and combatants in militant groups. It will emphasise on the fact that even though the Sri Lanka military achieved a decision victory against the LTTE in 2009, issues of social reconciliation remain unresolved. Then, it will seek to analyse the post-2009 scenario in Sri Lanka, and whether the government has been successful in addressing the gender concerns.

Keywords: feminism, reconciliation, conflict, gender, Sri Lanka, peacebuilding

Topics: Armed Conflict, Civil Wars, Combatants, Female Combatants, Feminisms, Households, Justice, Transitional Justice, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction Regions: Asia, South Asia Countries: Sri Lanka

Year: 2019

Understanding Women at War: A Mixed-Methods Exploration of Leadership in Non-State Armed Groups


Henshaw, Alexis, June Eric-Udorie, Hannah Godefa, Kathryn Howley, Cat Jeon, Elise Sweezy, and Katheryn Zhao. 2019. "Understanding Women at War: A Mixed-methods Exploration of Leadership in Non-state Armed Groups." Small Wars & Insurgencies: Gender, Insurgency and Terrorism 30 (6-7): 1089-116.

Authors: Alexis Henshaw, June Eric-Udorie, Hannah Godefa, Kathryn Howley, Cat Jeon, Elise Sweezy, Katheryn Zhao


Recent efforts aimed at understanding women’s contributions to nonstate armed groups have produced large-scale data sets on female combatants (Wood and Thomas 2017) and more limited data on women’s roles as supporters and leaders in armed groups (Henshaw 2016; 2017, Loken 2018). The present study aims to build on this literature by providing new data on the scope of women’s leadership in insurgent groups. While existing quantitative literature has focused mostly on the experience of female combatants, we argue that the presence of women in leadership roles is crucial to understanding how gender might influence the outcomes of insurgency. We introduce new data on over 200 insurgent groups active since World War II. While our analysis confirms earlier small-sample work demonstrating women’s presence in leadership roles, a qualitative analysis reveals that leadership is often gendered–revealing patterns of tokenization and tracking women to low-prestige leadership roles. At the same time, our findings challenge past research on jihadist organizations, showing limited expansion in the authority of women.

Keywords: civil conflict, civil war, gender, women, insurgency, terrorism, rebellion, leadership

Topics: Armed Conflict, Civil Wars, Combatants, Female Combatants, Conflict, Gender, Women, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Non-state Armed Groups

Year: 2019


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