Tim Glawion / Anne-Clémence Le Noan

Rebel Governance or Governance in Rebel Territory? Extraction and Services in Ndélé, Central African Republic

Small Wars and Insurgencies | 2022

  • Abstract

    Rebel governance assumes a symbiotic relationship between coercion and public goods provision. However, in the rebel-held town of Ndélé, Central African Republic, we find that governance happens in rebel-held territory, but rarely by rebels. Rebels allowed other actors to provide services for the people only when this did not hinder rebels extracting political clout and economic benefit from the people and their lands. We show how rebels’ extractive ambitions and governance discourses evolved during successive stages of rebellion through a diachronic comparison rooted in multimethod fieldwork from 2018 to 2022. We ask, why were rebel groups able to set up their rule, then rule for seven years, before ultimately losing power? Rebels evoked public goods at the onset of rebellion to justify the use of coercive means. After rebel rule was established, rebels outsourced public goods to international and state actors allowing for governance in rebel-held territory while focussing their own efforts on extraction. When their rule was challenged, rebels targeted governance actors and spaces in their territory in pursuit of economic gain and political dominance. Our findings call for a re-evaluation of existing rebel governance studies and the ways in which rebel groups are engaged with.

    Research Programmes


    Small Wars and Insurgencies

    Anne-Clémence Le Noan

    Monograph | Cambridge University Press | 2020

    The Security Arena in Africa: Local Order-Making in the Central African Republic, Somaliland, and South Sudan

    The labels 'state fragility' and 'civil war' suggest that security within several African countries has broken down. As Tim Glawion observes, however, while people do experience insecurity in some parts of conflict-affected countries, in other areas they live in relative security.

    Dr. Tim Glawion

    Research Fellow

    Peacebuilding | 05/2022

    Cross-Case Patterns of Security Production in Hybrid Political Orders: their Shapes, Ordering Practices, and Paradoxical Outcomes

    Studying 12 cases across the Central African Republic, Haiti, Somaliland, and South Sudan, I investigate (1) where hybrid interactions take place, (2) how they happen and (3) what this means for people’s security.

    Dr. Tim Glawion

    Research Fellow


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