Secessionism and Civilian Targeting



Tanisha Fazal, University of Notre Dame

Date and Time

January 8, 2015 3:30 PM - 5:00 PM


Encina Hall (2nd floor)


Abstract: This paper contributes to a burgeoning literature on civilian targeting in civil war by arguing that rebel war aims can offer critical insight into who targets civilians, and when.  Specifically, I argue that secessionists are less likely than non-secessionist rebel groups to target civilians in civil war, for two reasons.  First, secessionists, who have the greatest military capacity in their claimed region, are unlikely to target civilians meant to comprise the population of their desired state. And second, secessionists are especially, and increasingly, aware of and concerned with their reputation with respect to the international community.  I test these claims using an original data set on civil wars from 1816 to 2007, as well as a case study of the South Moluccan separatist movement.


About the Speaker: Tanisha Fazal is Associate Professor of Political Science and Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame. Her research focuses on questions around sovereignty, international law and norms, and political violence. Her book, State Death: The Politics and Geography of Conquest, Occupation, and Annexation won the 2008 Best Book Award of the American Political Science Association's Conflict Processes Section. Additional work has been published in journals such as the British Journal of Political Science, International Organization, International Security, International Studies Review, and Security Studies. She is currently completing a book manuscript on belligerents' historical and strategic use of the laws of war. More information can be found on Professor Fazal's website: