Speaker: Ayako Kobayashi, Research Fellow, International Security Program

Securing negotiated non-military humanitarian access in civil wars is one of the most pressing challenges for the international community in providing assistance and "leaving no one behind." Although humanitarian access impediments are often assumed as an incumbent's privilege to weaken its non-state armed enemy and associated with its sovereignty and the non-interference principle in a domestic armed conflict between a government and a rebel group, this state-centric approach overlooks a factor, thereby leaving people behind: rebels themselves sometimes restrict access to areas under their control.

Why do some rebel groups restrict humanitarian access to their territory, while others allow it? Under what conditions does one rebel group change its attitude toward humanitarian access? This presentation introduces a typology of rebel groups — four types identified as quasi-state, extrovert, introvert, and isolationist rebels, depending on their strategic appeals to international and/or domestic audiences. The likelihood of military victory remains elusive for insurgents. As such, rebels seek support and recognition as a politically viable actor in comparison with the incumbent. The main argument of this seminar is that determinants of rebel attitudes toward humanitarian access are responses of their audiences in addition to the comparative brutality of the opponent government and population movement.

Please join us! Coffee and tea provided. Everyone is welcome, but admittance will be on a first come–first served basis.

For more information, email the International Security Program Assistant at susan_lynch@harvard.edu.