Despite human rights treaties that are supposed to protect civilians, governments often abuse civilians during wars. Civilian atrocities are more common, research shows, when a civil war involves pro-government militias. Many scholars argue that governments deliberately outsource brutal violence to militia groups, allowing the state plausible deniability for breaking the laws of war.
Is it true?
What’s the evidence on governments, militias and brutal violence in civil wars?
While the delegation logic makes sense on paper, it is not supported by the evidence. In fact, militia violence and government violence are closely correlated, as two recent studies show.
A recent blog post by Dara Cohen, Jessica Stanton and myself in the Monkey cage explain further. Read it here: