My current research focuses on two broad issues: The first area of my focus is my dissertation, a book project, where I achieve multiple but connected goals related to the micro-level mechanisms of how to win civilian support in Peacekeeping. I do this by looking at: (a) the use of military means, the Blue Helmets, in Ivory Coast; (b) the use of international aid, such as provision of jobs to youths, in Somalia and, (c) the logic behind human rights abuse by the African Union Peacekeepers in Somalia (AMISOM). The second area of my research focuses on three areas of inquiry related to conflict studies: Insurgency and Counter-insurgency, (b) Peace-building and, (c) Justice institutions in conflict settings. In all my research I utilize quantitative methodology to generate original data especially using survey experiment, lab in the field settings, randomized controlled trials alongside qualitative interviews backed by focus groups. (research statement)
I design a survey experiment to test a theory of peacekeeper effectiveness whose primary mandate during deployments is the “protection of civilians” (POC). My theory predicts that active and passive channels of Blue Helmet efforts influence local support for effectiveness. Exploiting exogenous variation in the allocation of peacekeepers and the idiosyncrasy of violence in the second Ivorian Civil War, I randomly select 910 households from 77 villages in the most violent region in West Ivory Coast to draw estimates from a survey experiment to measure if peacekeepers win local support when they succeed in fulfilling the POC mandate but lose support when they fail. I find increased local support of peacekeepers when they actively fulfill their POC mandate when tested during outbreaks of large scale violence as opposed to less support when they are passive in their POC mandate. Additionally, despite being passive, peacekeepers continue receiving local support if never tested in their POC mandate because of a prior peace in absence of large scale violence. My findings are backed up by a separate panel survey conducted after seven months of Blue Helmets’ departure. These findings have important theoretical and policy implications since they help identify the micro-level mechanisms of how active and passive channels of peacekeepers affect civilian support in UN led peacekeeping missions. (Paper Link)
What mechanisms drive civilian support in international interventions? In 2017, the UN funded a multi-year stabilization project across 38 districts by hiring Community Liaison Officers (CLOs) to serve as “local ambassadors” –contact resource persons– in support of the UN and the African Union Peacekeepers in Somalia (AMISOM). I seize this opportunity to test if non-lethal instruments, having a contractual job, prevents violent extremism. I conduct a pairwise RCT where 48 youths were randomly selected for the CLO job in a public lottery while 55 were not. After one year into the project, and contrary to expectations, I find statistically significant increase in altitudes related to violent extremism among job holders. However, the treated also showed significant higher preferences toward democratic and liberal values and exhibited more individual religious traits. Further analyses suggest that such extremist attitudes become more pronounced when exposed to increasing U.S. and AMISOM military efforts. Results hold when the treated are compared with 72 Al-Shabaab defectors. My findings have important implications for the hearts and minds theory: use of development aid is a necessary but not a sufficient condition when intervening forces cause civilian casualties, since exposure to civilian harm only signals that the West does not live up to its own ideals. (Paper Link; Pre-Analysis Link)
What provokes peacekeepers in committing civilian abuse ? I study the African Union Peacekeeping Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), a new regional-UN peacekeeping model in complex security environments. Using the UN daily security incident reports, I construct a new civilian abuse data set to test an explanation if a peacekeeper witnessing a fellow peacekeeper casualty exhibits more disregard towards civilians. In order to control for the non-randomness of peacekeeper casualties, I use an instrumental variables approach exploiting the randomness in the exposure to the Improvised Explosive Device (IED) attacks. For robustness, I separately survey 600 AMISOM peacekeepers to capture a human rights index. My estimates show that with one unit increase of a peacekeeper casualty by an IED attack, the likelihood of civilian abuse by the peacekeeper increases by 1.12 unit (behavioral) and four-tenths of a standard deviation (attitude). I propose two mechanisms: show of force and desire for revenge and test these with a separate survey experiment. Findings point to peacekeepers engaging in civilian abuse mostly when being a witness to a fellow peacekeeper getting injured or killed due to intensive attacks which I attribute to the revenge channel. My findings provide first quantitative evidence of why peacekeepers commit civilian abuse despite its detrimental effects on the “hearts and minds” campaign. (Paper Link)
Haas, Nicholas, and Prabin B. Khadka. “If They Endorse It, I Can’t Trust It: How Out-Group Leader Endorsements Undercut Public Support for Civil War Peace Settlements.” American Journal of Political Science (forthcoming).
Caruso, Raul, Prabin Khadka, Ilaria Petrarca, and Roberto Ricciuti. “The economic impact of peacekeeping. Evidence from South Sudan.” Defence and peace economics 28, no. 2 (2017): 250-270. (Data)
Phayal, Anup, Prabin B. Khadka, and Clayton L. Thyne. “What makes an ex-combatant happy? A micro-analysis of disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration in South Sudan.” International Studies Quarterly 59, no. 4 (2015): 654-668. (Data)
Shiffman, Gary M., and Prabin B. Khadka. “The Onset Versus the Continuation of Insurgency in Nepal, a Single Country, District-Level Analysis.” In Ethnic Conflict, Civil War and Cost of Conflict, pp. 99-130. Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 2011.
“Social Incentives in State and Non-State Armed Groups,” with Michael J. Gilligan (NYU) and Cyrus Samii (NYU).
“Do Most Maoists More or-Less Minmax?” with Michael J. Gilligan (NYU) and Cyrus Samii (NYU).
“Mostly Deterred: An Episodic Analysis of the Israel-Gaza Conflict,” with Eli Berman (UCSD), Eesteban Klor (Hebrew University), Alexei Abrahams (University of Toronto) and Jonathan Powell (Kennedy School).
“The Limits of Norm Change in Weak States: Experimental Evidence from Somalia,” with Nicholas Haas (NYU). (pre-analysis plan)
“Does Community Driven Conflict Management Work? Evidence from a RCT in West Ivory Coast,” with Anup Phayal (UNCW).
“Extremist Militant Groups and the Provision of Justice: Experimental Evidence from South Central Somalia,” with Nicholas Haas (NYU). (pre-analysis plan)
Work in Progress
“The Legitimacy of Military Interventions: Experimental Evidence from a Comparative Analysis between Insurgents, National, Regional and U.S. Forces in Somalia.”
“Insurgent Violence and Government Recruitment – Evidence from the Maoist War in Nepal.”
“Tolerance and Violent Extremism in Children- Experimental Evidence from Somalia,” with Michael Gilligan (NYU) and Peter Vining (NYU).
“Effects of Land-Titling on Traditional and Modern Institutions: Evidence from Refugee Settlements in Uganda.”