The Limits of Legitimacy

The Limits of Legitimacy: Legal Pluralism in Mosul, Iraq, 2017-2018

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Photo by ‏ فی عین الله on Unsplash

In post-conflict settings where state and non-state legal orders coexist within the same territory, what factors determine individual preferences among alternative providers of justice and order? Are some people more prone to favor legal pluralism versus believing in the legitimacy of a single legal system for all cases? Or does it depend on the type of crime committed? Through a survey experiment conducted in the Iraqi city of Mosul, where the population has been exposed to three alternative justice systems–state, tribal, and Islamic–we explore the relationship between state legitimacy and support for non-state legal authorities. The experiment will help use to parse out who is most likely to prefer legal pluralism–the application of different types of laws to different types of situations–in contrast to others who believe in the legitimacy of a single legal system to decide all cases that come before the law. We also expect, among other hypotheses, that Iraqis who stayed in Mosul after the Islamic State (IS) arrived in June 2014 (“stayers”) are more likely to prefer non-state legal authorities, whether tribal or Islamic, over state legal authorities in comparison with those who fled to government–controlled areas (“leavers”). Whether the data support or disconfirm these hypotheses, the results will have important implications for efforts by governments to establish legitimacy in areas where their sovereignty has been challenged by non-state actors. The survey was administered in Mosul in March-April 2018 by an experienced and respected Iraqi research firm (N=1,450). With Mara Revkin. See the pre-analysis plan for this work hereFunded by GLD, the Project on Middle East Political Science, USIP, and the UN among others.

Retribution or Reconciliation: Attitudes Toward Islamic State Collaborators, 2017-2018

What are the conditions under which civilians will accept neighbors who collaborated with an insurgent group back into their community after conflict? Does punishment of rebel collaborators facilitate post-conflict reintegration? What are the effects of the identity of a rebel collaborator (e.g. gender, age, ethnicity) and the nature of her collaboration with the insurgent group (e.g. marriage to a fighter, military service, or logistical support) on the form of punishment (e.g. imprisonment, reparations, de-radicalization programs, and community service) desired by their community members to promote forgiveness and reconciliation? We address these questions through a conjoint survey experiment conducted in the Iraqi city of Mosul, which was controlled and governed by the Islamic State (IS) for more than three years. We find that people who collaborated to greater extents or are perceived as having done so willingly will be less likely to be accepted back into the community compared to those who collaborated to lesser extents or were coerced to collaborate. The findings of this research have important implications for the stabilization and reconstruction of war-torn societies around the world. The survey was administered in Mosul in March-April 2018 by an experienced and respected Iraqi research firm (N=1,450). With Mara Revkin. See the working paper here. Funded by GLD, the Project on Middle East Political Science, USIP, and the UN among others.