Robert U. Nagel

Robert U. Nagel


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.

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 Violence and Political Agendas
with Hilary Matfess & Meredith Loken -

Using female purity and victimhood as pretexts for violence in the name of national security limits women’s ability to mobilize for their own interests and entrenches stereotypes that can restrict women’s opportunities. Infantilizing women diminishes their agency, as evidenced by the fact that governments often group together women and children as vulnerable dependents. Furthermore, in making women particularly emotionally resonant targets, these appeals may put women at greater risk of victimization....

Continued Failure to End Wartime Sexual Violence
with Ragnhild Nordås | PRIO Policy Brief, 7. Oslo: PRIO

​A decade after United Nations Security Council Resolution 1820, and four years after the Global Summit in London in 2014, wartime sexual violence has not abated. An update of the Sexual Violence in Armed Conflict (SVAC) dataset (Cohen & Nordås 2014) for 2010–2015 shows little sign of improvement. We also find that state forces are still frequent perpetrators of sexual violence. Further, a clear and worrying trend has emerged in the past decade: an increasing number of insurgent groups perpetrate sexual violence.

Gendered Preferences – How women’s inclusion in society shapes negotiation occurrence in intrastate conflicts
Revised & resubmitted at 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”
with Austin C. Doctor - revised & resubmitted at Journal of Conflict Resolution

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.

Sexual Violence and Conflict Recurrence
Revise & resubmit at 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.

Sex and party leadership evaluations
with Jack Bridgewater - revise & resubmit at Electoral Studies

To what extent does a party leader’s 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-sectional analysis of voters’ party leadership evaluations. Using three waves of the Comparative Study of Electoral Systems (CSES) from 1996 to 2011, we find that citizens evaluate female party leaders more positively than male party leaders. We offer potential theoretical explanations for this observed pattern that draw on women’s political activities, their real and perceived competence in delivering for their constituents, and voters’ gendered stereotypes about women and men in politics. 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.

Territorial Control and Sexual Violence
with Victor Asal - under review at Security Studies

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 increases the likelihood that a group commits sexual violence for three reasons: (1) territorial control facilitates forced recruitment, which increases the likelihood of sexual violence, (2) territorial control provides the time, space, and relative security needed for group members to perpetrate sexual violence, and (3) to maintain control over territory and population groups rely on both lethal and sexual violence. 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 opens new avenues for its prevention.

“Diffusion of conflict-related sexual violence”
Presented at APSA 2019 - 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? I argue that sexual violence in one country’s internal conflict increases the likelihood that there will be sexual violence in neighboring countries’ conflicts. I contend that the practice of sexual violence spreads from conflict to conflict through belligerents’ use of foreign mercenaries for three primary reasons: 1) Combatants socialized perpetrating sexual violence are likely to have internalized the practice. Subsequently they are more likely to continue these practices when fighting in other conflicts; 2) Principals have less control over mercenaries, which contributes to a permissive environment in which mercenaries rape, loot, and pillage; 3) Mercenaries’ combatant experience elevates their status and makes them role models for less experienced fighters, who emulate their actions including acts of sexual violence. Based on this I expect that mercenaries spread sexual violence from conflict to conflict. I 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 how different types of violence spread across borders and carries major implications for the practice of preventing and managing conflict.