Research

Peace Negotiations and Civilian Targeting

Abstract Does the participation of armed actors in peace talks influence their strategy of targeting civilians? I argue that before peace talks belligerents have incentives to demonstrate their military strength and respect for humanitarian standards to international third parties. Thus, they are more likely to spare civilians and discriminately target enemy combatants before international talks. Using change point analysis and surrogate data testing on the daily casualty and territorial control data for the Syrian Civil War, I show that belligerents engaged in negotiations incite more combatant and fewer civilian casualties in the enemy territory immediately before an international meeting is to be held. These findings underscore that international parties can drive combatants to avoid violence against civilians by inviting them to peace talks.
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Does UN Peacekeeping Protect Civilians? (with William G. Nomikos and Rob Williams)

Abstract Research in political science has shown that UN peacekeeping operations are an important tool for ending civil war violence. However, much less is known about how UN peacekeepers affect civilian victimization. Given that civilians bear the primary costs of intrastate conflict, understanding how international actors can contribute to the resolution of violence affecting them is a pressing concern. How does the presence of UN peacekeepers affect civilian victimization? We address this question by offering a straightforward empirical test of how UN peacekeeping patrols affect the likelihood that there will be violence against civilians. We build on the existing literature and established practices of peacekeeping to argue that peacekeepers deter violence against violence. To test our argument, we examine the case of Mail, the site of large-scale communal violence managed by UN peacekeepers since 2013. We employ a Geographic Regression Discontinuity Design (GRDD) around the border of Mali and Burkina Faso to estimate the causal effect of deploying peacekeepers to an area with growing communal tensions. Ultimately, our research provides robust causal evidence that UN peacekeeping works at the local level to protect civilians.

Strike When they Aren't Looking: Great Power Crises and Civil War Onset (with David Carter)

Abstract Although the causes of civil wars have been studied on individual, organizational and state levels, their systemic links to global crises have largely been neglected. We argue that the instability great powers go through increases the likelihood of violent turmoil in allied countries. In times of systemic instability, global powers’ authority over the political divisions i n the countries within their sphere of influence weakens. This weakening opens up venues for the empowerment of the violent opposition, leading to a civil war. Our theory is supported by a set of indicators for systemic instability including economic, military, intelligence and material indicators. We further test the mechanisms of this link by showing that great powers in crisis lose influence in allied countries. Our work offers a novel explanation for civil war which can explain the abundance of civil war onsets in 1970s, 1990s and 2010s.

The Impact of Court Packing on Turkish Constitutional Court Decisions

Abstract Using an original and comprehensive dataset, I measure Turkish Constitutional Court justices' ideal points in a two dimensional ideology space. I show that justices' ideologies and background characteristics are significant determinants of their votes and dissents in annulment action cases between 2002 and 2016. The more restrainist and liberal a justice is, the more likely they will vote for the unconstitutionality of AKP legislation. The main question this study seeks to answer is whether the impact of justices' ideologies on their votes has been significantly different after the act of court packing in 2010. The analyses show that the probability of voting for the unconstitutionality of AKP legislation between 2010 and 2016 is significantly lower than the cases between 2002 and 2010.
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