THE FORMATION OF NONSTATE ARMED GROUPS’ SOCIAL CONTRACTS IN FRAGILE STATES: THE SUDANESE LIBERATION MOVEMENT/ARMY (SLM/A) IN SUDAN AND THE UNION FOR DEMOCRATIC FORCES FOR UNITY (UFDR) IN THE CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC
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While insurgency-related literature acknowledges that nonstate social contracts occur, a microlevel analysis is needed of how this process occurs. At the same time, understanding the NSAG’s social contract in a vacuum without understanding how the NSAGs’ social contract formed within the hierarchy of power ignores state context which, in part, shapes incentives and feasibility. I develop a social contract framework and use the framework to define state context and the components for an NSAG’s social contract. I hypothesize that a state’s social contract affects the formation process of an NSAG’s social contract through a unique causal mechanism, an iterative process called the Grievance-driven Pathway. I operationalize this through theory-testing process tracing with two case studies: the Sudanese Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A) in Sudan, and the Union of Democratic Forces for Unity (UFDR) in the Central African Republic (CAR). The evidence confirmed that the SLM/A and the UFDR formed social contracts with a segment of the population through the Grievance-driven Pathway in an iterative process with the two fragile states. While the two case studies followed the same pathway, there were microlevel differences in the states’ tenuous social contracts which reverberate throughout the causal mechanism. Echoing findings in current insurgent-related literature, in the two case studies, coercive power was the first source of legitimacy. However, my findings diverge in that, the provision of services and processes of exchange were not prioritized during the formation of the social contract by either the NSAGs or the NSAGs’ society. Different from most insurgent research, I operationalize territorial control, and conclude that the NSAG’s political mandate, the opportunity cost to the NSAG to control territory, and the opportunity cost to the population to endorse the NSAG’s territorial control are significant. The two case studies demonstrate how NSAGs built upon self-defense groups form, in Staniland’s terms, parochial organizations, which render counterinsurgency efforts successful in the shortterm albeit unsuccessful in the longterm. This study seeks to expand policy makers’ and practitioners’ understanding of social contract theory, to shift from a biased application, and to offer greater insights as to why and how some organize for self-protection.