September 21, 2018
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Posted by NCID

NCID Resident Fellows Alex Armand and Joseph Flavian Gomes have presented their investigation The Reach of Radio: Ending Civil Conflict through Rebel Demobilization at the leading research centers National Economic Bureau of Research (NBER) in Boston and at World Bank's Development Impact Evaluation (DIME) program in Washington D.C. Gomes will also present the paper at the American Economic Association's Annual Meeting in Atlanta next January 4th, 2019.

The cutting-edge research conducted by Armand and Gomes has received interest from all around the globe. The project analyzes how FM radio broadcasts have been used as a low-cost, non-violent instrument to draw combatants out of war in otherwise hard to reach remote areas. With the economic support of the Fundación Ramón Areces, the two researchers have worked with former NCID Research Assistant Paul Atwell since 2017 to provide the first quantitative evaluation of an active counter-insurgency policy.

The researchers focused their investigation on the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) insurgency, one of Africa’s longest running conflicts. After collecting original data on radio broadcasts encouraging defections on the LRA case, results showed that broadcasting defection messages reduces fatalities, violence against civilians and clashes with security forces. These reductions are propelled by an increase in defections. In this situation, the LRA resorts to increased looting for survival. Furthermore, the analysis found that economic incentives are vital for the program's effectiveness. Conflict-enhancing commodity price shocks weaken the pacifying effects of defection messaging, whilst conflict-reducing shocks strengthen the peace.

The paper was first presented last 23rd of July at NBER's Summer Institute 2018 Economics of National Security program by the three researchers. Armand, Gomes and Atwell shared presentations with Stanford University and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign researchers, amongst others. After summer, the 18th of September, Armand was invited to deliver a DIME seminar at the World Bank headquarters in Washington D.C. on the same paper. Gomes will present the paper at the Economics of National Security paper session within the American Economic Association Annual Meeting.

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