Rebels, smugglers and (the pitfalls of) economic pacification

Brenner, David (2021) Rebels, smugglers and (the pitfalls of) economic pacification. In: Gallien, Max and Weigand, Florian (eds.) The Routledge Handbook of Smuggling. Routledge International Handbooks . Routledge, London, pp. 397-408. ISBN 9780367489533

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Abstract

Smuggling economies make for ideal sources of revenue for rebel movements. Their clandestine and peripatetic nature as well as borderland geographies are often compatible with the requirements of guerrilla war. To weaken armed resistance and pacify conflict, state actors seek to undercut lucrative smuggling operations by restricting illicit trade flows or reducing their profit margins by liberalising trade regimes. This chapter explores both such strategies through the lens of two empirical cases: US sanctions on so-called ‘conflict minerals’ in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo and the liberalisation of border trade in Myanmar by which the country’s generals sought to dry up smuggling revenues of rebel groups. Its findings suggest that, counterintuitively, attempts of economic pacification can increase rather than decrease violence, conflict and insecurity. This is not only because economic interventions in contexts of conflict can shift the incentives of warring factions in unforeseen ways. But also - and more fundamentally - economistic approaches to conflict operate on limited assumptions about the nature of political violence and consequently fail at addressing the underlying political drivers of conflict.

Item Type: Book Section
Schools and Departments: School of Global Studies > International Relations
SWORD Depositor: Mx Elements Account
Depositing User: Mx Elements Account
Date Deposited: 06 Aug 2021 08:59
Last Modified: 25 Nov 2021 15:40
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/100961

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