Robert U. Nagel

Robert U. Nagel


Addressing Conflict-Related Sexual Violence Through Multilateral Sanctions - Learning from Myanmar
Robert Ulrich Nagel, Julia Maenza, Daniel Salazar, Aminah Mohamad Yusuf, & Diamond Jones (2022)

This report draws on the case of Myanmar to demonstrate that multilateral, coordinated sanctions can play an important role in responding to reports of conflict-related sexual violence but that sanctions alone are not enough. Amid a humanitarian crisis where more than 320,000 people have been displaced and more than 1,500 civilians have been killed since February 2021, the Tatmadaw continues to be accused of conflict-related sexual violence against citizens it has detained since the coup. The citizens of Myanmar have repeatedly advocated for international intervention and have welcomed sanction measures by the United States (US), Canada, the European Union (EU), and the United Kingdom (UK). Drawing on semi-structured interviews with senior UN officials, former senior US State Department and Department of Commerce officials, officials from Global Affairs Canada, activists and members of civil society organizations in Myanmar, academic experts, and policy analysts, we argue that the urgent crisis in Myanmar necessitates multilateral and coordinated action in which sanctions are part of a comprehensive policy and strategy.

You Cannot Improve What You Do Not Measure–The Gendered Dimensions of UN PKO Data
Robert U. Nagel, Kate Fin, & Julia Maenza (2022) "You Cannot Improve What You Do Not Measure–The Gendered Dimensions of UN PKO Data" Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding

UN peacekeeping operations have introduced new data-based systems such as the Situational Awareness Geospatial Enterprise (SAGE) and the Comprehensive Planning and Performance Assessment System (CPAS). Simultaneously, UN leadership has repeatedly made the case that more women in peacekeeping will make peacekeeping more effective. We argue and show that these initiatives while occurring concurrently have been separate and that there is a lack of gender mainstreaming in the data-based approaches. We contend that this has negative consequences: It produces incomplete data regarding threats and needs of local beneficiaries and peacekeepers, it impedes performance assessment, and it leaves inefficiencies unaddressed.

Control over bodies and territories - Insurgent territorial control and sexual violence
Asal, Victor & Robert U. Nagel (2021) "Control over bodies and territories: Insurgent territorial control and sexual violence" Security Studies, 30(1): 136-158.

Despite the popular narrative of ‘rape as a weapon of war’, research shows that only a minority of insurgent groups perpetrate sexual violence in armed conflict. We argue that territorial control is an overlooked factor that can increase the likelihood that a group commits sexual violence for two primary reasons: (1) rebel groups seeking to establish control over territory are more likely to commit sexual violence and (2) groups seeking to maintain territorial control emulate state behavior through violently controlling human, sexual, and reproductive capital, which manifests in forced recruitment and different forms of sexual violence including rape and sexual slavery. We systematically test this argument using the Sexual Violence in Armed Conflict (SVAC) and the Big Allied and Dangerous Insurgent II (BAADI2) datasets. The results provide robust support for the argument. This presents an important addition to our understanding of conflict-related sexual violence and rebel governance.

Conflict-Related Sexual Violence and the Re-Escalation of Lethal Violence (Winner of the 2019 Conflict Research Society's Cedric Smith Prize)
International Studies Quarterly

To what extent does sexual violence influence the likelihood of conflict recurrence? Despite a substantive body of research that explores conflict recurrence, the literature has largely neglected the role rebel group dynamics. I address this gap arguing that rebel sexual violence in inactive periods is associated with greater risks of conflict recurrence. Specifically, building on research that shows an association between recruitment and rape as a socialization method during civil war, I contend that when rebels perpetrate sexual violence in inactive periods it indicates on-going mobilization efforts. I derive four observable implications from this argument, which I systematically test on all intrastate post-conflict years from 1989 to 2015 using the updated Sexual Violence in Armed Conflict dataset and the Armed Conflict Termination dataset. The results provide robust support for the argument that rebel sexual violence increases the likelihood of conflict recurrence.

Children at Risk of Wartime Sexual Violence, 1990–2019
Robert U. Nagel; Ragnhild Nordås; Gudrun Østby; Siri Aas Rustad & Andreas Forø Tollefsen (2021) Children at Risk of Wartime Sexual Violence, 1990–2019, Conflict Trends, 1. Oslo: PRIO.

Culture, Gender, and Women in the Military: Implications for International Humanitarian Law Compliance
Robert U. Nagel; Kinsey Spears & Julia Maenza

The increased number of women in the Armed Forces presents a timely opportunity to examine how the changing gender makeup of the US military affects operations and culture, what potential barriers exist, and what women’s participation means for compliance with international conventions such as the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda and International Humanitarian Law (IHL).

Can the Women, Peace and Security Agenda and International Humanitarian Law Join Forces?
Jeni Klugman, Robert U. Nagel, Mara Redlich Revkin, and Orly Maya Stern

This report explores overlaps and synergies between International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and the women, peace and security (WPS) agenda, specifically the protection and participation pillars of WPS.

Preventing Sexual Exploitation and Abuse by Male Peacekeepers
Anania, Jessica, Mendes, Angelina & Robert U. Nagel (2020) USIP Special Report -

Sexual exploitation and abuse by United Nations peacekeeping forces first came to international attention more than a quarter century ago. Despite numerous UN policy responses, the problem persists, harming individuals, jeopardizing missions, and undermining the credibility and legitimacy of UN peacekeeping operations. This report addresses the question of why more progress has not been made in preventing these violations and draws attention to ways in which prevention efforts can be strengthened and made more effective.

Is there Cross-National Evidence that Voters Prefer Men as Party Leaders? No
Bridgewater, Jack & Robert U. Nagel (2020) "Is there Cross-National Evidence that Voters Prefer Men as Party Leaders? No" Electoral Studies Vol. 67

To what extent does party leaders’ sex influence how voters evaluate them? Despite a burgeoning literature on gendered biases and institutional barriers that women face in politics, this question has received little systematic attention. We address this question using the first large-scale cross-national analysis of voters’ party leadership evaluations. Using three waves of the Comparative Study of Electoral Systems (CSES) from 1996 to 2016, we find that voters evaluate female party leaders more positively than male party leaders. In addition, we find a gender affinity effect exists for female but not male respondents. These findings have important implications for the study of party leadership and women in politics as well as practical implications for political parties considering promotions and leadership contests.

Gendered Preferences – How women’s inclusion in society shapes negotiation occurrence in intrastate conflicts
(2020) Journal of Peace Research.

To what extent do gender relations in society influence the likelihood of negotiations during intrastate disputes? A substantial body of literature recognizes gender relations as integral to understanding conflict, yet they have received little attention in systematic studies of conflict management. I argue that patriarchal gender relations, those that reflect a preference for masculinity over femininity, influence belligerent’s susceptibility to negotiate. To explain how gender relations translate into shaping state behavior regarding conflict I draw on the concept of practices. Specifically, I contend that practices of excluding women from fully participating in public life legitimize and institutionalize violence as the preferred masculine way of managing conflict. The implication is that countries with more patriarchal gender relations are less likely to engage in negotiations during intrastate conflicts. I systematically test this argument on all civil conflict dyads between 1975 and 2014. The analysis shows that countries that marginalize women’s participation in public life are significantly less likely to engage in negotiations. The robust results provide strong support for my theoretical claims and offer systematic evidence in support of core claims of the feminist peace theory. These findings have implications for both the study and practice of civil war management.

Conflict-related sexual violence and rebel group fragmentation (Winner of the 2020 ISA Dina Zinnes Award)
Nagel, Robert & Austin Doctor (2020)“Conflict-related sexual violence and rebel group fragmentation” Journal of Conflict Resolution, 64(7-8): 1226-1253.

To what extent does sexual violence influence rebel group fragmentation? A substantial body of research explores wartime rape as a cohesion building mechanism following forced recruitment. However, the relationship between sexual violence and broader organizational cohesiveness has not been systematically tested. In this paper we provide this test with a study on the effects of sexual violence on the event of rebel group fragmentation. We argue that rebel sexual violence increases cohesion at the battalion level, but increases the risk of fragmentation of the broader organization. Specifically, we contend that rebel lieutenants are more likely to split from the organization if they are confident that their subordinate battalions are cohesive and will follow them rather than remain with the organization. We test this argument on a global sample of 105 rebel organizations active between 1989 and 2014. The results provide robust support for the argument showing that sexual violence increases the risk of fragmentation by a factor of five. This presents a crucial contribution to our understanding of both rebel group fragmentation and sexual violence and has important policy implications.

Talking to the shameless? Sexual violence and mediation in intrastate conflicts
Nagel, Robert U. (2019) “Talking to the shameless? Sexual violence and mediation in intrastate conflicts” Journal of Conflict Resolution, 63(8): 1832-1859.

To what extent does sexual violence influence the likelihood of conflict management in intrastate conflicts? Despite a growing body of research that explores conflict-related sexual violence, the literature presents little insight on its effects on conflict resolution. Extending feminist IR theory to intrastate conflicts and applying a gender lens to the power to hurt argument, I argue that when rebel sexual violence is public knowledge the likelihood of conflict management increases because the state perceives it as a threat to its masculinity. I systematically test this argument on all intrastate conflict years from 1990 to 2009 using the Sexual Violence in Armed Conflict (SVAC) and the Civil War Mediation (CWM) dataset. The results provide robust support for the argument. This presents an important refinement of traditional rationalist conflict bargaining theories and opens new avenues for the research and practice of conflict management.

Zoom Q&A on "Talking to the Shameless?"
Answering Williams College Students' Questions about my article in April 2020

The Known Knowns and Known Unknowns in Data on Women, Peace and Security
LSE WPS Working Paper Series (3/2019)

What do we know about gender, women, peace and security? In the past two decades, interest in systematic data and research on gender, women, peace and security has increased substantially. This growth has helped bring traditional feminist research themes into the mainstream fold of political science and international relations, offering opportunities to analyse and answer a number of policy-relevant questions.

Mediation and Foreign Policy
with Govinda Clayton | DOI: 10.1093/acrefore/9780190228637.013.447

Mediation is now the most popular form of conflict management, and it has proven to be an effective means of resolving inter- and intrastate disputes. This article offers an overview of mediation in foreign policy. We first highlight which actors tend to perform mediatory roles, emphasizing the relative strengths and weaknesses of individual, state, and international organization mediators. Next we discuss the supply and demand of mediation, identifying the key conditions that promote third parties’ efforts to offer mediatory assistance and belligerents to accept the help of an intermediary. We then discuss the process and varying methods used by mediators, highlighting the range of actions from relatively soft facilitative mediation, up to more manipulative approaches. Finally we discuss the outcomes that mediation tends to produce and the conditions that influence the effectiveness of this preeminent foreign policy tool.

Gendered threats and preemptive repression - The cross-border diffusion of conflict-related sexual violence
Under review - with Austin C. Doctor (draft available upon request)

How does sexual violence in one country’s conflict affect the likelihood that we observe this violence in a neighboring country? We argue that sexual violence in one country’s internal conflict increases the likelihood that there will be sexual violence in neighboring countries’ conflicts. We contend that the practice of sexual violence spreads from conflict to conflict for two primary reasons: 1) Governments observe conflict dynamics in neighboring countries and are likely to take pre-emptive steps to maintain control. 2) Governments are gendered institutions, so when non-state actors perpetrate sexual violence in a neighboring conflict, this presents a particular threat to which governments respond by re-asserting their masculinity through sexual violence. Based on this we expect that sexual violence by non-state actors increases the likelihood of sexual violence by government forces in a neighboring country’s conflict. We test this argument using the updated Sexual Violence in Armed Conflict dataset. The results provide robust support for the argument. This presents an important contribution to our understanding of the spatial dynamics of different types of violence, governments’ responses to regional conflicts, and carries major implications for the practice of preventing and managing conflict.

Conceptualizing Peacekeeping Operation Effectiveness
with Kate Fin, Julia Maenza, and Elena Ortiz

When is a peacekeeping operation considered effective and what indicators are used to assess this and by whom? Quantitative studies of United Nations peacekeeping operations (UN PKO) overwhelmingly show that they are effective in reducing violence. At the same, qualitative research has repeatedly shown UN PKO falling short and even causing harm. In this article, we address this disparity. We review and discuss the concepts, definitions, and indicators currently used to evaluate PKOs’ effectiveness. Based on the discussion of current approaches we propose a different approach to conceptualizing and measuring UN PKO effectiveness. We define PKO effectiveness along two dimensions: mandate implementation and fulfillment of local objectives. Rooted in a feminist approach of centering marginalized voices, we introduce consultation, refinement, operationalization process (CROP) as a framework for PKOs to implement this approach.

Sexual violence
Book chapter with Anne-Kathrin Kreft

Responses to conflict-related sexual violence
Book chapter with Anne-Kathrin Kreft