Date of Award


Document Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Josef Korbel School of International Studies

First Advisor

Timothy D. Sisk, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Rachel Epstein

Third Advisor

Susan Sterett


Civil war, Peace process El Salvador, Political parties, Post-conflict political development, Rebel movements, Southern Africa


Efforts to understand modern intrastate conflict require examination of the varied interactions between states and non–state entities battling for control of government. A growing number of civil wars and separatist conflicts, particularly following the end of the Cold War, have been resolved peacefully through negotiated settlements in which rebels abandoned their arms and entered the political arena. While many scholars have studied revolution and democratization in depth, few have focused on explaining the transformation of rebel movements into political parties. Under what conditions do rebel movements engaged in armed conflict with states decide to negotiate, disarm and participate in electoral politics? The analysis relies on historical narrative and process–tracing to uncover complex, interactive causal mechanisms beyond the purely rationalist motives of rebels and regimes.

This qualitative study analyzes two revolutionary groups that transformed from violent combatants into political actors in transitions from civil wars—the ZANU/ZAPU movement in Zimbabwe and the FMLN in El Salvador. Three factors—a) the nature and extent of international influence on the rebels, b) the rebels‘ level of popular support and c) the type of electoral system are hypothesized to impact rebels' decisions. The study examines the shifting mobilization strategies of violent revolutionary groups—and their effects—given particular material and non–material incentives and the interaction of the interests and identities of domestic and international actors in the civil war context. Building on the existing theoretical literature on social revolution, democratization and the participation of “outsiders” in electoral politics, the study of rebels‘ decision–making in civil wars is positioned firmly within scholarship on peace–building and political development.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Devin M. Finn


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

122 p.


Political Science, International law