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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Rebel group identity and international relations : how the illogic of appropriateness prolongs civil conflict Tyer, James


Despite the growing literature on the causes of intrastate conflict, little attention has been paid to the identity of rebel groups. Where rebel groups are introduced, they are represented as rational entities with static interests. Moreover, civil war is represented as a domestic microcosm of neorealist anarchy. This thesis questions the completeness of such explanations and argues that a constructivist analysis of the normative foundations of the international system can provide vital reasons for the longevity of civil conflict. A critical constructivist understanding explains the international system as a communally-maintained normative culture. Ideas form the guiding 'logic of appropriateness' and therefore constitute the identities of the actors in the system. For rebel groups, the logic of appropriateness is actually an 'illogic' as the prescriptions of the dominant norms of normative sovereignty carry inherent contradictions as to what it means to be a legitimate actor. The case studies of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) in southern Sudan and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LITE) in Sri Lanka demonstrate the effects of the contradictory normative dissonance on rebel group identity and question the likelihood of a successful peace in either country while the dissonance prevails.

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