The Conflict Research Society congratulates Sebastian van Baalen, winner of the Cedric Smith Prize 2020. Sebastian is a doctoral candidate in his last year at the Department of Peace and Conflict Research at Uppsala University. The Cedric Smith Prize is awarded annually to the best article or thesis chapter in peace and conflict research by a PhD student.
Sebastian’s winning article “Guns and governance: Local elites, civil resistance, and the responsiveness of rebel governance in Côte d’Ivoire” addresses an intriguing question about rebel governance, namely why some rebels solicit and act upon civilian preferences much more than others. The paper has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Peace Research. Sebastian demonstrates that local elites’ clientelist networks fundamentally influence rebels’ responsiveness to civilians in the areas they govern. The jury was impressed both by the novel theoretical argument and the combination of existing survey data with unique interview and archival data collected during eight months of fieldwork in Côte d’Ivoire. Overall, this research emphasizes the importance of civilian agency and civil resistance in improving rebel governance and civilian protection.
The CRS received 23 excellent submissions for the prize from all over the world (this was the first year the prize was open to PhD students outside the UK and RoI). The winner was selected by an international jury consisting of Prof. Hugh Miall (University of Kent), Dr. Anne-Kathrin Kreft (University of Gothenburg), Dr. Luke Abbs (University of Essex, former prize winner), and Dr. Corinne Bara (Uppsala University, Chair of the Jury).