Political Science, Department of


First Advisor

Courtney Hillebrecht

Second Advisor

Robert Schub

Date of this Version

Spring 5-2019


Read, Hannah. 2019. Rebel Group Compliance with International Humanitarian Law and Foreign State Sponsorship. Unpublished Masters Thesis, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, Nebraska.


A Thesis Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Political Science, Major: Political Science, Under the Supervision of Professor Courtney Hillbrecht. Lincoln, Nebraska: May, 2019

Copyright 2019 Hannah Read


While rebel groups are obligated to comply with international humanitarian law (IHL) only indirectly, many rebel groups express intent to comply with IHL. Previous research has examined the conditions that make compliance likely. While these studies emphasize legitimacy-seeking, little research considers whether there are tangible benefits for rebel groups that comply with IHL. Studying whether rebel groups that comply with IHL are more likely to receive either military or diplomatic support from a foreign state provides an opportunity to bridge the literature on rebel group compliance with the literature on foreign state sponsorship of rebel groups. This study considers rebel group compliance with IHL alongside more extensively studied determinants of rebel group sponsorship, such as regime type and relative military capabilities, in order to assess whether rebel groups that comply with IHL are more likely to receive support from a foreign state. The results of the Firth logit regressions performed in this analysis indicate that democratic sponsors are less likely to sponsor rebel groups that use child soldiers, but that when democratic and autocratic sponsors are considered jointly, rebel group compliance with IHL does not appear to influence sponsorship decisions.

Advisor: Courtney Hillebrecht