Theses Doctoral

Violence and Intervention

Gordon, Grant Michael

In three complementary essays, this dissertation analyzes the causes of violent conflict and the impact of third-party interventions that seek to reduce violence and generate post-conflict political stability. In the first essay, I analyze how regimes in fragile states cultivate strong but loyal armies. Drawing on an original survey conducted with members of the Congolese army operating in North Kivu, the largest operational theater in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the epicenter of one of the most violent conflicts in Africa, I show that regime elites withhold payments in order to distinguish loyalty and evidence that this screening strategy drives high levels of civilian abuse. In the second essay, I assess the impact of ``Eyes on Darfur'', the first-ever satellite intervention implemented by Amnesty International USA amidst a brutal genocide with the objective of reducing violence. Using a high-frequency, sub-national dataset on genocidal violence, I show that this intervention resulted in pernicious and persistent effects: monitored areas experienced increases in violence during the program as well as in subsequent years, as did neighboring areas. In the third essay, and in collaboration with Lauren Young, we assess how peacekeepers cultivate cooperation with local populations in Haiti. Using a novel survey, we find that exposure to security and relief activities are associated with increases in cooperation whereas exposure to peacekeeper abuse undermines cooperative behavior. Together, these essays articulate a set of causes for violence against civilians rooted in the political economy of state institutions, analyze how human rights interventions are mediated by the underlying institutional dynamics in the countries in which they are launched, and examine how keeping the peace stems from altering the cooperative incentives local populations face.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Political Science
Thesis Advisors
Humphreys, Macartan N.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
August 1, 2016