Rebel Leaders in Civil War Project
Intrastate war is forged by people and tempered by context. A country does not go to war with itself ex nihilo. Rather, intrastate war reflects a strategic sequence of decisions and actions made by individuals. Some individuals, inevitably, shape this process more than others. In particular, rebel leaders—the individuals who mobilize and manage insurgency campaigns—play a significant role in determining the viability and behavior of armed rebel groups. Ignoring rebel leaders, their unique characteristics, and individual agency withholds important sources of explanatory power from analyses of insurgent warfare.
The Rebel Leaders in Civil War Dataset (RLCW) offers the means to ``bring leaders back'' into analyses of intrastate conflict. While the conflict literature consistently gives anecdotal import to rebel leaders, it is only beginning to connect these actors to outcomes of interest through empirical analysis. By offering longitudinal measures of rebel leaders, RLCW is the first of its kind. Containing information on a rebel leader's experiences prior to conflict onset and during their conflict tenure, the RLCW data enable scholars to test their dynamic, micro-level theories of intrastate conflict. Still in development, RLCW currently features more that 200 rebel leaders from more than 150 rebel organizations across 65 intrastate conflicts from 1989 to 2014. Observations are recorded at the rebel leader level of analysis. Temporal variation is measured annually.