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“Third-Party Targeting of Civilians during Civil War since 1900” by Gary Uzonyi

Global Security logo 5On October 4th, The Howard H. Baker Center hosted up its third installment of the Fall 2017 Global Security Research Workshop. Dr. Uzonyi presented his research on civilian victimization during civil war in a paper titled, “Third-Party Targeting of Civilians during Civil War since 1900.” Speaking to an audience of faculty and graduate students, Dr. Uzonyi noted that, while a significant amount of research has explored why governments and rebel groups engage in civilian victimization during civil war, little is known about why third parties who have intervened in the conflict choose to target civilians. This is puzzling, as military interventions in the Syrian, Somali, and Yemeni civil wars suggest, it is not uncommon for third parties to victimize civilians in their efforts to end ongoing conflicts.

Focusing specifically on pro-government military interventions, Dr. Uzonyi’s research seeks to identify what factors motivate third parties to specifically target civilians in foreign conflicts. His initial findings from a preliminary study underscore that there may be a nuanced relationship between regional or interstate rivalries (such as adversarial positions held by the USSR vs. the United States or Iran vs. Saudi Arabia) and the regime type of the intervening government. Specifically, autocratic governments that maintain multiple rivalrous relationships with other governments may use their interventions to demonstrate resolve so as to dissuade other countries from making future challenges.

As these findings represent an initial step in a much larger project, Dr. Uzonyi solicited feedback from the audience on how to move forward on this novel project.

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