Chapter Number 6 Chapter Title Incentives and Constraints for Mass Killings Chapter Authors

Joan Esteban , Massimo Morelli , and Dominic Rohner

Instituto de Analisis Economico (CSIC) and Barcelona GSE ([email protected]); Bocconi University and IGIER ([email protected]); University of Lausanne ([email protected]). Chapter Abstract This article provides a rationalization of large mass atrocities consistent with the main characteristics of the history of the last …fty years: large mass killings or genocides are planned; they are perpetrated by groups in power; they typically happen at the end of civil wars; they sometimes follow from external pressures or constraints on the group in power; the risk of mass killings is highest in polarized countries with low productivity and high dependence on natural resources. Also the normative implications in terms of 1

third party intervention have to be carefully considered. Neither a threat of direct intervention (e¤ectively putting a cap on allowed mass killings) nor the imposition of minimum standards to be used for the treatment of defeated minorities, can be evaluated in the absence of consideration of the economic structure and social divisions. (136 words) Chapter Keywords Mass killings, genocide, civil war, democratization, intervention, fairness. Word Count 6,806 Chapter Draft Date March 30, 2015

1 1.1


The question of what motivates mass atrocities has puzzled scholars for the longest time, even going back to Thucydides’ masterpiece The War of the Peloponnesians and the Athenians. The goal of this chapter is a rational 2

analysis of mass killing incentives for groups controlling power. In contrast with terrorism, where the decision makers are typically rebel groups, the rational incentives to perpetrate genocides have to do with "extending or keeping control". Mass killings, and especially genocides,1 are typically perpetrated by governments and are targeted towards the groups that the powerful groups want to weaken or dispossess. Understanding the potential for rational recourse to mass atrocities by governments is not only important from the point of view of positive analysis, but also for the improvement in risk assessment and early warnings, which are key necessary conditions for prevention and/or e¤ective intervention. Thus we will also devote ample attention to the role of intervention and sanctions, reviewing some recent literature on this subject.


Stylized Facts

Fact 1: Genocides are planned The …rst stylized fact to keep in mind is that genocides are planned. As the Albright and Cohen (2008: XV) report says: “Genocide is not the inevitable result of ‘ancient hatreds’ or irrational leaders. It requires planning and is carried out systematically.” Further, “the task force …nds that mass atroci3

ties are generally perpetrated when underlying risk factors - such as ethnic or sectarian discrimination, nationalist myths, armed insurgency or political and economic exclusion - are exploited by opportunistic elites seeking to amass power and to eliminate competitors (2008: 36).” In other words, nationalism, ethnic sectarianism, insurgencies and political exclusions (1) are endogenous and (2) cannot by themselves explain a recourse to mass killings, understanding which, in contrast, requires a direct focus on the interests of the groups in power. Formal analysis is necessary to explain under what conditions (economic or institutional) an insurgency takes place and the group in power decides to use mass killings as part of their strategy. Even though hatred, distrust and uncontrolled passion can certainly play a big role,2 in Mann’s (2005: 9, 31) words, “to understand ethnic cleansing we need a sociology of power more than a special psychology of perpetrators as disturbed or psychotic people — though some may be. (...) All cases of cleansing involve material interests. Usually, members of an ethnic group come to believe they have a collective economic interest against an out-group.” Also Chirot and McCauley (2006: 5) argue "that most political massacres are quite deliberate, are directed by or at least approved by the authorities, and that they have a goal (...)." These authors "take the position that mass killing


is neither irrational nor in any sense ’crazy’" (2006: 7). Like the explanation of wars, the explanation of some mass killing episodes requires reference to history, ideological clashes, religious cleavages and alike but the presence of such cleavage-related motivations alone cannot explain why in their presence there are cases in which government mass killings take place and other cases in which they do not. A rationalist explanation of government mass killing decisions can be crucial for this type of positive analysis even when material incentives are not the sole motivations.

Fact 2: Power Kills To carry out a genocide, a group needs to handle power and control the military. Hence genocides and most forms of large mass killings are perpetrated by governments (see Har¤, 2003; Valentino, Huth and Balch-Lindsay, 2004). According to Rummel (1994, 1995) "political regimes — governments— have probably murdered nearly 170,000,000 of their own citizens and foreigners in this century — about four times the number killed in all international and domestic wars and revolutions." (Rummel, 1995: 3). Only rebel groups that are militarily very strong are able to commit some forms of mass killings (Hultman, 2009) and this typically after having won


a military battle (Schneider, Bussmann, and Ruhe, 2012). Krain (2000: 43) concludes that "military victories by de…nition enable the winner to set the terms of the post-internal war period. This may include the decision to punish the losing side by eradicating them, thereby eliminating the problem of having to live side by side with the enemy in the post-internal war state. This was the solution chosen by the Congolese rebels who took control of what would become Zaire in the mid-1960s". Or as put by Chirot and McCauley (2006: 2), "con‡ict can become genocidal when powerful groups think that the most e¢ cient means to get what they want is to eliminate those in the way."

Fact 3: Genocides Happen At the End or After Civil War Genocide events, as evident by looking at the PITF data set, take place predominantly at the end or after civil wars (see also Krain, 2000; Valentino, Huth and Balch-Lindsay, 2004). In the words of Krain (2000: 46), "internal wars are lethal twice over–in the actual bloody con‡ict, and in the enhanced potential for state-sponsored mass murder subsequently". Once one party has been defeated on the battle…eld and is powerless, the likelihood of massacres by the victorious group is highest. For this reason the model we adopt below


in this chapter assumes that the proper and most consistent timing involves …rst a decision by the powerless group to rebel or not; only after con‡ict, there is a decision stage, by whoever conquers (or keeps) power, to enact mass killings or not.3

Fact 4: Civil Wars Are the Least Civil An interesting new stylized fact has been recently presented by Esteban, Morelli and Rohner (2014: 5): "Not all forms of war are equally likely to be accompanied by mass killings. A substantial fraction of civil wars entail deliberate mass killings of civil non-combatants on a large scale perpetrated by the dominant group, while there is almost no record of mass killings of this sort in post-WWII interstate wars. Between 1960 and 2000 roughly a third of all civil wars (50 out of 152) featured mass killings, while in none of the interstate wars (23) were there mass killings."

Fact 5: The Dark Side of Democratization The existing literature …nds contradictory results on the impact of democracy and democratization on mass killing incentives, depending on whether they focus on the level of democracy or the process of democratization.


Most existing papers focusing on the democracy level …nd that nondemocratic regimes are found to be more likely to commit mass killings than democracies, especially when the autocrats are powerful (Rummel, 1994, 1995; Har¤, 2003; Valentino, Huth and Balch-Lindsay, 2004; Easterly, Gatti and Kurlat, 2006; Colaresi and Carey, 2008). In contrast, there is evidence that the process of democratization heightens the mass killings risk. There are numerous case studies making this point, as shown in the books of Snyder (2000), Mann (2005) and Mans…eld and Snyder (2005). According to Mann (2005) the process of democratization is one of the main causes of ethnic cleansing: “Stably institutionalized democracies are less likely than either democratizing or authoritarian regimes to commit murderous cleansing. (...) But their past was not so virtuous. Most of them committed su¢ cient ethnic cleansing to produce an essentially mono-ethnic citizen body in the present. In their past, cleansing and democratization proceeded hand in hand” (2005: 4). Put in the words of Mans…eld and Snyder (2005) for the cases of Burundi and Rwanda: “The 1993 elections in Burundi–even though internationally mandated, free, and fair–intensi…ed ethnic polarization between the Hutu and Tutsi ethnic groups, resulting in some 200,000 deaths” (2005: 5). “Power sharing and pluralism [were] pre-


cursors to the Rwandan genocide. In Rwanda, as in Burundi, the pressures to democratize applied by the international donors that were the source of 60 percent of the Rwandan government’s revenue played a central role in triggering ethnic slaughter” (2005: 255). The recent article of Esteban, Morelli and Rohner (2014) has presented the …rst systematic large-scale statistical evidence that indeed recent democratization leads to a sharp rise in the risk of a genocide.4

Fact 6: The Curse of Polarized, Poor and Oil-Abundant Countries Among the other papers in the empirical literature studying mass killings, Krain (1997), Heger and Salehyan (2007), Bae and Ott (2008) and Querido (2009) …nd that large levels of ethnic fractionalization reduce the risk of mass killings, while Montalvo and Reynal-Querol (2008) and Esteban, Morelli and Rohner (2014) show that ethnic polarization increases the risk of mass killings; richer countries tend to display less mass killings (Scully, 1997; Bae and Ott, 2008; Esteban, Morelli and Rohner, 2014);5 inequality (especially human capital inequality) tends to increase the risk of mass killings (Besançon, 2005), while trade openness reduces the risk of mass killings (Har¤, 2003; Esteban, Morelli and Rohner, 2014). Natural resource abundant coun-


tries are more likely to experience mass killings (Querido, 2009; Esteban, Morelli and Rohner, 2014).


Third party intervention

The United Nations for the …rst time in 2011 seemed to have recognized the importance of limiting the internal "power to kill" of a powerful leader: resolution 1973 (17 March 2011) on the situation in Libya marked the …rst time the Council had authorized the use of force for human protection purposes against the wishes of a functioning state. According to Bellamy and Williams (2011): “The closest it had come to crossing this line previously was in Resolutions 794 (1992) and 929 (1994). In Resolution 794, the Council authorized the Uni…ed Task Force to enter Somalia to ease the humanitarian crisis there, but this was in the absence of a central government rather than against one...”The fact that some recent resolutions like this show recognition that perpetrators of mass killings are often (if not always) State controlling groups or States themselves is a step in the right direction, although some powerful States still oppose action by the UN against governments. However, even if this opposition were lifted, the theory that we have so far, and that we develop further below, suggests that the optimal intervention level depends


on the economic and institutional characteristics of the country where the civilians are at risk. The fact that di¤erent economic and institutional characteristics induce di¤erent normative considerations on what intervention is optimal even when the objectives of the third parties are unchanged, calls for a more integrated study of intervention categories. There is a very limited empirical literature about the desirability of intervention in order to tighten the constraints to the exercise of power: Since the end of the Cold War, the question of whether to intervene to stop states from committing atrocities has become central (Ho¤man et al. (1996), Holzgrefe and Keohane (2003), Rotberg (2010), Teson (1997), Weiss (2007), and Wheeler (2002)). There is some evidence of ambiguous e¤ects of such tightening of the power to kill: Hultman (2010), for example, …nds that UN interventions mandated to protect civilians do reduce civilian deaths, but other UN interventions increase rebel targeting of civilians. Also the theoretical literature is relatively slim. The two recent relevant papers that we discuss in more detail below are Kydd and Straus (2013) — KS thereafter— and Esteban, Morelli and Rohner (2014) — EMR thereafter. Both KS and EMR deal with the e¤ects of external intervention in civil wars. A consideration that emerges from the two perspectives together is


that international intervention is bound to increase the expected payo¤ of the rebel group relative to the government’s and hence groups in opposition will be more inclined to trigger con‡ict because its e¤ective cost will be lower than without intervention. The costs of rebellion can be a¤ected through di¤erent channels: economic sanctions on the government repressing the rebellion, the imposition of a “fairer" division of the surplus, or moderating or prohibiting the killing of non-combatant civilians. International imposition of limits on the exploitation of the minority group not only has an e¤ect on the likelihood of con‡ict but most importantly may increase the incentives of doing mass killings for the group in government. Put di¤erently, once exploitation becomes harder, the ruler may have incentives to substitute exploitation with elimination. In both models international military intervention scales down or stops mass atrocities. The …nal net result is to increase the likelihood of con‡ict onsets with ambiguous e¤ects on the amount of mass killings. Committing to trying to directly reduce atrocities has ambiguous e¤ects and may end up increasing extreme genocidal incentives. In KS the government announces a sharing of the surplus. If accepted, peace follows and the game ends. If rejected, there is con‡ict and the government decides the extent of mass killings. The murders are done right away in


order to increase the government’s probability of victory on the battle…eld, the sole bene…t of such atrocity. The international community experiences a cost by the view of such “atrocities" and decides between either imposing economic sanctions to the government or to become a third military actor in support for the distribution they deem as best. This intervention reduces the probability of victory to the other two parties and scales down the effective assassinations. The economic sanctions are an exogenous parameter that has the e¤ect of increasing the cost of con‡ict to the government. The game ends with the winner implementing the most desired policy: keeping the entire surplus in the case of the government or the opposition or, in case of victory of the external actor, distributing the surplus to the two parties in the proportion considered adequate. In EMR genocides can be done by whoever ends up being victorious (consistent with fact 3 mentioned above) and have the goal of weakening the opponent in future iterations of the game. The win probability depends on the relative size of each group and hence mass killings have the e¤ect of reducing the threat of future con‡ict onsets. This lower likelihood of a future rebellion permits the group in power a higher level of exploitation of the defeated group in the future. The bene…t of a smaller share allocated to


the defeated has to be compared with the loss in surplus produced by the shrinking of the working population.6 The international community intervenes in two ways. One is with a cap on the amount of deaths in a mass killing. This is equivalent to assume that mass killings have zero cost below the threshold and an unbounded cost above. The second type of intervention is the minimum level of fairness with which the group that conquered power can treat the powerless. Beyond some threshold, unfairness is considered completely unacceptable. But here too, the inter temporal nature of the model resurfaces because the constraint of unfairness may come not only from external intervention but also from the threat of future rebellions. Therefore, even without an external pressure for fairness the group in power might have an incentive to exterminate the opposition in order to eliminate any future contestation of their power. The consideration of EMR and KS together allows to shed new light on the phenomena under study: It is true that reducing the cost of rebellion may induce more rebellions, as pointed out in KS; but it is also true that the defeated group will also have more incentives to rebel in the future. This will moderate the level of exploitation that the winner can impose on the loser and hence reduce the incentives to enter a con‡ict in order to control power, unless


one considers the possibility of elimination of future claims. Consequently the murdering of part of the opponent’s population becomes a strategy that could be considered pro…table on both sides. External pressure for a fair division of surplus, as pointed out in EMR, can increase the likelihood of mass killings further. In what follows we present the formal analysis using a two-period simpli…cation of the EMR model, which allows an easier integration with the KS perspective. The integrated model will also be consistent with the six main facts of mass killings discussed in section 2 and the pros and cons of interventions discussed in this section.



We now present a modi…ed and simpli…ed version of the EMR model that brings together the main questions raised in KS and EMR, informed as much as possible by the observed facts. While the two models examine the role of the international intervention in civil wars and both include the option of rebellion and the possibility of mass killings, the questions addressed are not the same. KS are interested in the in‡uence of foreign intervention on


con‡ict onset and EMR on the economic and social conditions leading to mass killing incentives, with or without foreign intervention. The goal of what follows is to clarify the complementarity and sometimes contrast of the two approaches within an integrated framework. Consider a country populated mainly by two groups, i and j, of population size (Ni ; Nj ). Hence, total population is N = Ni + Nj . We take the convention that group j is currently in power. The group in government decides on the distribution of the surplus G among the two groups. The surplus is composed of output and rents from natural resources. Output Y is produced by labor. We assume a rigid labor supply, so that output is proportional to population: Y = think of

N . We can

as determined by the existing stock of capital and/or of land, as

well as by technology. In addition, the country obtains an income from the exploitation and export of natural resources, E. Hence, the government’s revenue is G = =

N . G

N + E: We denote by

the share of produced revenue,

Let the share going to the group in opposition be

Ni j N ,



stands for the fairness of the distribution chosen by the group j in power. When


= 1 each individual is treated equally. If the opposition accepts

the share of the revenue there is no international intervention and hence no


externally imposed fairness. This situation may be disrupted by the rebellion of the group out of power who seeks to seize the political control. In order to capture, in the simplest possible form, the various static and dynamic incentives, it is su¢ cient to consider two periods, of which period 2 is simply a stylized representation of "the future". Hence, when no ambiguity is possible, time 1 variables will be left without time subscript. In case of rebellion at time 1, output is reduced by d (destruction) and the win probability for group i is equal to the group relative size,

Ni 7 . N

Whichever group h = i; j wins, the victorious group seizes

(or keeps) power, consumes all the current surplus, perpetrates Mh mass killings on the opponent population, and sets new distribution shares over future government revenues, that is, sets by a factor

2 h.

The future rents are discounted

and the distribution is conditioned by the threat of rebellion by

the group now in opposition and by external pressure for a minimum level of fairness. In KS these external pressures are modelled as a de…ned third agent with her own preferences that can end up victorious if she decides to intervene in the con‡ict in period 1, and there is no period 2. In order to make the model common to both contributions, we shall assume all the pressure is external and hence exclude the role of changes in the future threat. Hence,


the group in power chooses the maximum level of unfairness compatible with the external pressure for a minimum degree of fairness . Clearly, whichever group is in power, it will always choose the maximum tolerated degree of unfairness. Once one of the groups conquers power it decides on the number of opponents to murder.8 The (partial) elimination of the opponent has “positive" and negative e¤ects and hence the optimal choice will be a balance between the two. In EMR mass killings has a double e¤ect on the distribution of the surplus. The opponents are fewer and hence they are less of a threat for the future;9 but the elimination of opponents reduces the surplus to be distributed in period 2. The KS model also has a double e¤ect of murders.10 Following EMR we assume that there is a cap M

min Nj ; Ni


which the cost imposed on the perpetrator is unbounded. We assume that group members act in a coordinated manner so that each group maximizes the payo¤ of the representative group member. Group i decides to rebel if the group’s expected payo¤ from con‡ict exceeds the payo¤ from remaining peaceful.


The payo¤ to group i if remaining in peace is

p i



Ni G+ N 1


Ni 1 G= N 1


Ni G N

and if rebelling

r i


Ni G N


Nj N



Mi Mi




Nj N 1

Ni N

Mj G Mj

Mj :

The corresponding payo¤s for the group initially in power are

p j


1 1



Ni G N

and in con‡ict

r j


Nj G N





Ni N

Mj Mj




Ni N1

Nj N

Following KS we assume that the government can also be subject to an economic sanction s by the international community. Note that in our temporal extension of their model, the fairness of the distribution has to be increasing in s. The argument is that because of the higher sanction cost of


Mi G Mi

Mi :

con‡ict to the government the opposition would rebel more easily, so that peace demands a higher level of fairness. We start by characterizing the "optimal" mass killing policy by whoever is the winner in case of con‡ict. Player h in power will choose Mh

M to



Nk N

Mh Mh


Mh = 1

Nk N

Mh Mh

E + (N

Mh ) :

Di¤erentiating the payo¤ after victory with respect to Mh we obtain:

Nh E @ vh = @Mh (N Mh )2


) :

Note that when all the surplus is produced by labor, E = 0, we have that

@ vh @Mh

< 0, so that the highest payo¤ is obtained with no mass killings,

Mh = 0.

Remark 1 The existence of non-produced rents is a necessary condition for mass killings. It can be checked that for E > 0 the payo¤ is convex in Mh .11 Let us


denote by Mho (Nh ) the threshold such that

Mho (Nh ) = N

c o h (Mh )

1 1


c h (0).

Nh :

That is


Therefore, when in power, group h will murder Mh = M opponents if M Mho , otherwise it will choose Mh = 0.12 It follows that the larger the threshold Mho is, the less likely that there will be mass killings. From (1) we can deduce the following observation:

Remark 2 Given M , mass killings are more likely the smaller is the share of produced revenue , and the higher the required fairness .

The relative importance of non-produced rents, typically coming from natural resources, is a fundamental determinant of con‡ict and mass killings.13 The pressure for fairness can have indirect e¤ects on mass killings. Whenever

we have that Mho > Nk and hence group h wouldn’t have incen-

tives to do mass killings even without any external intervention on the level of atrocities committed. But, for any parameter con…guration there always is a threshold level of fairness

o h

above which group h will try to exterminate

the opponent. Formally,


Remark 3 (1) With Nh N

1 1

, Mh = 0.14 (2) With

, Mh = M ; and (2.ii) if

Nh N


1 1

> , we have: (2.i) if , Mh = M if M

Mho ,

and Mh = 0 if M < Mho . With this characterization result one can easily compute the expected payo¤ from conquering power in any situation of con‡ict. Given these expected payo¤s, we can now examine the decision to trigger con‡ict or not. If


no mass killings can occur even in the case of open con‡ict.

In this case, we can easily obtain that the level of fairness that makes i indi¤erent between peace and rebellion is




d ) : G

Suppose the group in power starts with the level of fairness exactly …xed at this point. Then we have the following result. Remark 4 Let the group j in power apply the level of fairness that just makes the opposition indi¤erent between peace and con‡ict. Then an increase in the government revenue G or a decrease in the cost of con‡ict d will induce the opposition to initiate con‡ict. Like in KS, a reduction of the cost of rebellion makes groups in opposition 22

more likely to trigger con‡ict. A peaceful status quo could also be broken by an unexpected change in

or . In the …rst case, it could result from a

decision by the international community to tighten the fairness requirements. The second kind of change may come about from a sudden increase in the relative size of the non-produced rents within the government revenue. Let us now assume that the conditions for mass killings are met, so that we can examine the core questions addressed by KS and EMR. In particular we assume henceforth that


and hence that

1 1

> 1. As is conventional

in the literature we take the group in power to be the largest, Nj =N > 1=2 > Ni =N .


Equilibrium with one sided mass killings risk

We start by considering the case in which the group in power is the only one with incentives to do mass killings. This will be the case when



1 1

1 1

Nj N

Nj N

M <1 N

1 1

Ni : N

1 the condition is satis…ed for all M > 0 and hence the

choice is to exterminate the maximum tolerated. However, when


1 1

Nj N


1, the group j in power will do mass killings if M is su¢ ciently large. We have already obtained that the maximum payo¤ for the group in power j compatible with i remaining peaceful is for




) Gd . Now,

we have to verify whether j prefers the payo¤ associated with peace with


or trigger con‡ict, eliminate M opponents when victorious. The peace (maximum) payo¤ for the group in power j is

p j


Nj G N 1


Ni d: N

The con‡ict (with mass killings) payo¤ for j is

r j


Nj G N





Ni N





Ni N1

Nj G: N

Comparing the two payo¤s, the following result can be readily veri…ed.

Remark 5 Let the group in power j be the only one with incentives for mass killings in case of con‡ict. Then, the pro…tability of con‡ict with mass killings relative to peace decreases with higher costs of con‡ict d and s and lower cap on mass killings M , but it increases with the level of required fairness.

That the larger the costs of con‡ict the more the group in power will 24

prefer peace to con‡ict comes to no surprise. This also means that it will be more ready to make concessions to the opposition in order to avoid con‡ict, as KS point out. However, the role of the pressure on fairness and the cap on mass killings are more complex. More fairness leaves no better option for increasing the payo¤ than decimating the opponent, and a stricter cap on mass killings will reduce the likelihood of con‡ict (when associated with the elimination of the opponent).


Equilibrium with two-sided mass killings risk

In view of Remark 3, besides the necessary condition

> , the incentives

for mass killings depend on whether the size of the group is larger or smaller than


. We focus …rst on the case in which the size of both groups


is smaller than this threshold. This is the case when than . Then, the group h = j; i of size whenever


Mho N


1 1

Nh N


1 1

is not much larger

will do mass atrocities

Nh . N

Taking into account that Nj > Ni , a …rst observation is that a policy of being more strict on the number of potential murders will deter …rst the smaller group, in opposition. Therefore, a moderate intervention may end up hurting the small rebel group and not the government. It is useful to see this


argument from the other extreme. Suppose that the international community starts with a very strict policy, a very low M , and no murders are being observed. If it is very costly to keep the necessary high number of observers for a strict implementation of a low M , e¢ ciency considerations may push towards reducing such cost and hence implicitly accepting a higher number of (unreported) murders. This reduction will eventually have a discontinuity and mass killings will jump from zero to the full M . The …rst perpetrator will clearly be the group in power.

Remark 6 Suppose that Nh , N





and that

Nh N


1 1



Mho N


for h = j; i. A reduction of M reduces the mass killings by

the two contenders and, beyond a threshold, the rebels stop having incentives to kill in case of a victory; the government remains the sole perpetrator of atrocities below that threshold.

We shall now also brie‡y discuss the case where both groups h = j; i are of size

Nh N


1 1

. This corresponds to a situation where fairness constraints

are powerful and non-produced rents amount to a large share of the economy. In this case both groups will always have incentives to perform mass killings after victory, independently of the size of M .


The e¤ect of international intervention is more complex than in the onesided case. Since the rebels would also perpetrate atrocities, the concession that the group in government will have to make to keep peace depends on M . Therefore, in order to examine the e¤ect of policies on the net incentive for con‡ict (followed by mass killings) one needs to take into account the change in both the peace and the con‡ict payo¤. In particular, the payo¤ from con‡ict for a group h is

r h


Nh (G N


sh ) +




Nh N

(Nk Nh )M N (N M )

where sh = s for h = j, and sh = 0 for h = i. Let us …rst discuss the incentives of group h = i initially in opposition. Remember, M < Ni < 1=2 < Nj . One can easily see that a decrease in M increases the con‡ict payo¤ to group i and hence decreases the peace payo¤ to the government (as the rebels are more expensive to "buy o¤"). In contrast, for the government (h = j) the impact of M on the con‡ict payo¤ is ambiguous, and thus the total e¤ect is ambiguous. Trying to directly reduce atrocities has ambiguous e¤ects and may end up increasing mass killings.


From the expression above, it is immediate that an increase in the required fairness

reduces the payo¤ of con‡ict for the rebels i and hence increases the

peace payo¤ for the group j in power, as a lower compensation is su¢ cient for peace. However, the payo¤ to the government j from con‡ict with mass killings also goes up and once more we have an ambiguous net e¤ect on the relative pro…tability of murders from the point of view of the group in power. To summarize, we obtain that international intervention has ambiguous e¤ects. When pressing for a fair treatment of the losers, the international community may end up triggering con‡ict and mass killings. Also, when being more strict on the number of atrocities on which to close an eye, the intervention may unwillingly help the group in power rather than the insurgent minority.



In this chapter we have …rst highlighted the six main stylized facts about mass killings in the last 60 years, and then we have proposed a simple model that incorporates (or is consistent with) such features, and allows us to reach a number of theoretical predictions. The proposed simpli…ed version of Este-


ban, Morelli and Rohner (2014) also allowed us to draw some precise comparisons with the third party intervention theory by Kydd and Straus (2013).15 The overall picture that we obtain is a picture full of caveats: not only the positive analysis points out that resource discoveries and democratizations can be a curse (by fuelling mass killing incentives) if materializing at the "wrong" times, but also the normative implications in terms of third party intervention have to be carefully considered. Even if the international community starts to agree that defending populations from mass killings is a top priority (something itself not clear at all before the UN resolution for Libya), we point out that neither a threat of direct intervention (e¤ectively putting a cap on allowed mass killings) nor the imposition of minimum standards to be used for the treatment of defeated minorities, can be evaluated in the absence of consideration of the economic structure and social divisions, since in some cases (ethnically polarized society and low productivity of labor, for example) such measures could even back-…re.16 How to design a policy function mapping various initial conditions to an optimal M and

is beyond the

scope of this chapter, but a "‡exible" direction has to be advocated. Obviously, some of the episodes of mass killings in the last 60 years …t the assumptions of the model better than others: The Darfur event, for example,


is one that arguably …ts the model well, since there were indeed two well identi…able groups, great prevalence of natural resources, relatively low labor productivity, and looming democratization (see for example Straus, 2005 and 2006, and de Waal, 2007). However, even if some cases do not conform to the stylized assumptions of the model, EMR show that the theoretical predictions of the model (more or less reproduced by the above remarks) …nd signi…cant support in the data, and hence the mechanism at play in the model must play some relevant role even when the exact situation on the ground does not match the model assumptions completely, for example involving more than two groups or not involving oil at all. The sad recent history of Syria, Iraq and Libya will certainly push scholars to focus more than in the existing literature on multilateral con‡ict, and we believe that this (expected) new focus will bring new and important insights for the understanding and prevention of future outbreaks of violence and repressions. However, given fact 2 above, the understanding of mass killings relates mostly to the incentives of governments, and hence we do not believe that the main insights of the proposed model will change much when considering situations with more than one group not controlling power. Similarly, impositions of power sharing among multiple groups should have,


qualitatively, very similar e¤ects as hikes in

in the model. Thus, we believe

that the main tenets of the rationalist explanation that we have provided will prove robust to most extensions involving multiple groups. One distinctive feature of mass killings that clearly separates this deadly option from other forms of weakening the opposition group (e.g. imprisonments, internments, expropriations and disenfranchisements) is that mass killings are designed to reduce the size of the opponent groups, either directly or by causing refugee out‡ows and displacements (multiplier e¤ect, see Krain 2000: 41). The possibility of a multiplier e¤ect, caused for example by the vicinity of a country expected to keep open borders, could constitute an incentive ampli…cation factor to be considered in future work about the dynamics of forced migration. However, if a government tries to displace minority groups without killings, the underlying logic is somewhat di¤erent, because killings are irreversible, while displaced populations are often looking for opportunities to return or retaliate. We will certainly study in future research the important dynamics of forced migration, as sometimes complement and sometimes substitute of direct eliminations.


References [1] Albright, M. K., and W. S. Cohen (co-Chairs of Genocide Prevention Task Force). 2008. Preventing Genocide: A Blueprint for U.S. Policy Makers. Washington DC: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. [2] Anderton, C. H. 2014. “Killing Civilians as an Inferior Input in a Rational Choice Model of Genocide and Mass Killing.” Peace Economics, Peace Science, and Public Policy 20: 327-46. [3] Bae, S., and A. Ott. 2008. “Predatory Behavior of Governments: The Case of Mass Killings.”Defence and Peace Economics 19: 107-25. [4] Bellamy, A. J., and P. D. Williams. 2011. “The New Politics of Protection: Côte d’Ivoire, Libya and the responsibility to protect.” International A¤airs 87: 825-50. [5] Besançon, M. 2005. “Relative Resources: Inequality in Ethnic Wars, Revolutions, and Genocides”Journal of Peace Research 42: 393-415. [6] Casper, B. A., and S. A. Tyson. 2014. “Military Compliance and the E¢ cacy of Mass Killings at Deterring Rebellion,” working paper, New York University. 32

[7] Chirot, D., and C. McCauley. 2006. Why Not Kill Them All? The Logic and Prevention of Mass Political Murder. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press. [8] Colaresi, M., and S. Carey. 2008. “To Kill or to Protect: Security Forces, Domestic Institutions, and Genocide.” Journal of Con‡ict Resolution 52: 39-67. [9] Easterly, W., R. Gatti and S. Kurlat. 2006. “Development, democracy, and mass killings.”Journal of Economic Growth 11: 129-56. [10] Esteban, J., M. Morelli, and D. Rohner. 2014. “Strategic Mass Killings”, Journal of Political Economy forthcoming. [11] Esteban, J. and D. Ray. 2011. “Linking Con‡ict to Inequality and Polarization”, American Economic Review 101: 1345-74. [12] Favretto, K. 2009. “Should Peacemakers Take Sides? Major Power Mediation, Coercion, and Bias,” American Political Science Review 103: 248-63. [13] Grigoryan, A. 2010. “Third-Party Intervention and the Escalation of State-Minority Con‡icts,”International Studies Quarterly 54: 1143-74.


[14] Har¤, B. 2003. “No Lessons Learned from the Holocaust? Assessing Risks of Genocide and Political Mass Murder since 1955,” American Political Science Review 97: 57-73. [15] Heger, L., and I. Salehyan. 2007. “Ruthless Rulers: Coalition Size and the Severity of Civil Con‡ict,”International Studies Quarterly 51: 385403. [16] Ho¤man, S., R. C. Johansen, J. P. Sterba, and R. Vayrynen. 1996. The Ethics and Politics of Humanitarian Intervention. South Bend: University of Notre Dame Press. [17] Holzgrefe, J.L. and R. Keohane. (eds.). 2003. Humanitarian Intervention: Ethical, Legal and Political Dilemmas. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. [18] Hultman, L. 2009. “Uncivil Warfare in Civil War.” mimeo, Swedish National Defence College and Uppsala University. [19] Hultman, L. 2010. “Keeping Peace or Spurring Violence? Unintended E¤ects of Peace Operations on Violence against Civilians”, Civil Wars 12: 29-46.


[20] Krain, M. 1997. “State-Sponsored Mass Murder: The Onset and Severity of Genocides and Politicides,” Journal of Con‡ict Resolution 41: 331-60. [21] Krain, M. 2000. “Democracy, Internal War, and State-Sponsored Mass Murder,”Human Rights Review 1: 40-8. [22] Kuperman, A. J.. 2008. “The Moral Hazard of Humanitarian Intervention: Lessons from the Balkans,” International Studies Quarterly 52: 49-80. [23] Kydd, A. H. and S. Straus. 2013. “The Road to Hell? Third-Party Intervention to Prevent Atrocities,”American Journal of Political Science 57: 673-84. [24] Mann, M. 2005. The Dark Side of Democracy. Explaining Ethnic Cleansing. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. [25] Mans…eld, E., and J. Snyder. 2005. Electing to Fight: Why Emerging Democracies Go to War. Cambridge MA: MIT Press.


[26] Montalvo, J., and M. Reynol-Querol. 2008. “Discrete Polarisation with an Application to the Determinants of Genocides,” Economic Journal 118: 1835-65. [27] Morelli, M. and D. Rohner. 2014. “Resource Concentration and Civil Wars,”NBER Working Paper no. 20129. [28] Political






Dataset, [29] Querido, C. 2009. “State-Sponsored Mass Killing in African Wars Greed or Grievance?” International Advances in Economic Research, published online. [30] Rauchhaus, R. 2009. “Principle-Agent Problems in Humanitarian Interventions: Moral Hazard, Adverse Selection, and the Commitment Dilemma,”International Studies Quarterly 53: 871-84. [31] Rohner, D., M. Thoenig, and F. Zilibotti. 2013a. “War Signals: A Theory of Trade, Trust and Con‡ict,”Review of Economic Studies 80: 111447.


[32] Rohner, D., M. Thoenig, and F. Zilibotti. 2013b. “Seeds of Distrust? Con‡ict in Uganda,”Journal of Economic Growth 18: 217-52. [33] Rowlands, D., and D. Carment. 1998. “Moral Hazard and Con‡ict Intervention,” in M. Wolfson, (ed.), The Political Economy of War and Peace, Boston, MA: Kluwer Academic Publishers. [34] Rotberg, Robert. (ed.). 2010. Mass Atrocity Crimes: Preventing Future Outrages. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution. [35] Rummel, R. 1994. “"Power, Genocide and Mass Murder,” Journal of Peace Research 31: 1-10. [36] Rummel, R. 1995. “Democracy, Power, Genocide, and Mass Murder,” Journal of Con‡ict Resolution 39: 3-26. [37] Schneider, G., M. Bussmann and C. Ruhe. 2012. “The Dynamics of Mass Killings: Testing Time-Series Models of One-Sided Violence in the Bosnian Civil War,”International Interactions 38: 443-61. [38] Scully, G. 1997. “Democide and genocide as rent-seeking activities,” Public Choice 93: 77-97.


[39] Snyder, J. 2000. From Voting to Violence: Democratization and Nationalist Con‡ict. New York: Norton. [40] Straus, S. 2005. “Darfur and the Genocide Debate,” Foreign A¤airs January/February: 123-33. [41] Straus, S. 2006. “Rwanda and Darfur: A Comparative Analysis,”Genocide Studies and Prevention 1: 41-56. [42] Teson, F. R. 1997. Humanitarian Intervention: An Inquiry into Law and Morality, Irvington-On-Hudson, N.Y.: Transnational Publishers, 2nd edition. [43] Valentino, B., P. Huth, and D. Balch-Lindsay. 2004. “Draining the Sea: Mass Killing and Guerrilla Warfare,” International Organization 58: 375-407. [44] Waal, A. de. 2007. "Darfur and the failure of the responsibility to protect." International A¤airs 86: 1039-54. [45] Weiss, T. G. 2007. Humanitarian Intervention: Ideas in Action. Cambridge: Polity Press.


[46] Wheeler, N. J. 2002. Saving Strangers: Humanitarian Intervention in International Society. Oxford: Oxford University Press.


Notes 1

Recall the distinction endorsed more generally in this handbook: mass atrocities in-

clude mass killings and genocides, where the latter require targeting and ethnic group elimination intentions. As explained also in chapter 3 when looking at the data, it is indeed the case that the genocide events in the PITF data set (Political Instability Task Force, 2010) are perpetrated by government controlling groups, whereas in data sets that include broader categories of mass killings the frequency of events with mass killings on both sides in the same event is larger. 2

See the recent work of Rohner, Thoenig and Zilibotti (2013a, 2013b) on trust and

violent con‡ict. 3

See Anderton (2014) for a decision theoretic model in which the two forms of violence

can be chosen simultaneously. 4

They also point out that autocracy does not remain a signi…cant explanatory variable

for genocides (there called mass killings) when one reduces the omitted variable bias and accounts for unobserved heterogeneity. 5

Easterly, Gatti and Kurlat (2006) …nd that mass killings are most likely for countries

with intermediate income levels. 6

Notice that this dynamic argument explains why mass killings seem to be speci…c to

civil wars and not of international wars (fact 4). In KS instead the “atrocities" would be equally e¤ective in an inter-state war. 7

In a general game-theoretic model of con‡ict Esteban and Ray (2011) show that the

equilibrium win probabilities are approximately equal to the population shares of the


groups involved. See also Morelli and Rohner (2014). 8

Note that in KS only the government can do mass killings if victorious. The subject

group simply consumes the entire surplus but does not kill the former enemies. 9

This implies that a minority group could remain peaceful even with a more unfair

distribution. As mentioned above, for the sake of simplicity we are excluding this e¤ect. 10

In KS the “positive" e¤ect is the increase in the probability of victory, while for EMR

it is the increase in the expected share of the surplus; the cost in KS is the international sanction proportional to the number of murders, while in EMR the cost is (in proportion ) the lost surplus. 11

The convexity of the payo¤ function with respect to Mh would be further exacerbated,

as argued in Casper and Tyson (2014), if we also consider explicitly the collective action problem and the related military compliance. Their focus is on individual participation decisions under incomplete information, whereas we abstract from collective action problems and information issues. 12

This corner solution results from the convexity of the bene…t in the reduction of the

size of the opponent together with a linear cost. In KS the e¤ect of mass killings on the payo¤ also has a linear cost but, with no explicit justi…cation, the e¤ect on the expected bene…t is assumed to be concave. Hence, KS obtain instead an interior “optimal" level of atrocities. 13

Of course if a country (Norway being a top example) has a lot of resources but (1) is

ethnically homogeneous and (2) has a high opportunity cost of con‡ict, resources may be a blessing rather than a curse. 14

Notice that when E = 0, as in Remark 1, we have


= 1

and hence no mass

killings. 15

See also Favretto (2009) and Grigoryan (2010).


Other moral hazard concerns regarding humanitarian interventions are discussed e.g.

in Rowlands and Carment (1998), Kuperman (2008) and Rauchhaus (2009).


Chapter Number 6 Chapter Title Incentives and ...

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