Rebels against mines? Explaining rebel restraint on landmine use
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non-state armed actor, legitimacy, restraint, landmine use, Philippines
Instead of state governments, rebel groups have become the most prolific landmine users. However, rebels display significant variation in the way they restrict the use of landmines. While some armed groups seek to limit their effects to government forces, some indiscriminately lay mines irrespective of collateral damage, and others directly target civilians with landmines. Furthermore, some rebels have renounced the use of anti-personnel mines and engage in mine action. In this thesis, I seek to explain this empirical variation. I argue that civilian victimisation caused by landmines creates significant legitimacy costs to rebels, thus increasing incentives to exercise restraint. It follows that the more legitimacy-seeking behaviour rebels display, the more likely they are to exercise restraint on landmine use. I test this hypothesis in a structured focused comparison of three rebel groups from the Philippines. The case studies support the hypothesis, as legitimacy-seeking behaviour had a positive effect on restraint on landmine use in the selected groups. This thesis contributes to the field mainly in two ways. First, I conceptualise and measure restraint on landmine use, which had been neglected in previous studies. Second, I develop a theoretical argument specifically explaining variation in restraint on landmine use.