Arms for education? External support and rebel social services Academic Article uri icon


  • How does foreign support for rebel groups affect rebel governance of civilians during armed conflict? Existing studies primarily examine the local and domestic politics of rebel rule, leaving the effects of foreign intervention on rebel governance underexplored. Focusing on rebel provision of social services, this study considers two competing arguments. The first suggests that foreign sponsorship reduces rebels need to rely on local civilians for resources and hence decreases rebels incentives to provide services. The second anticipates that by augmenting rebels resources and military capabilities, foreign support increases their capacity to provide welfare services. These competing logics suggest that different types of foreign support have divergent effects on rebel social service provision. The article tests this theory using cross-sectional time-series data on external support for rebel groups and rebel governance for the post-1945 period. It finds that rebel groups that receive external funding, weapons or training are significantly more likely to provide education and health services to civilians. In contrast, direct military intervention to assist insurgent forces has no effect on rebel service provision. This article is among the first to systematically study the impact of external support and third-party intervention on rebel social service provision during civil war and holds implications for civilian welfare in contested territories.

published proceedings


altmetric score

  • 5.7

author list (cited authors)

  • Huang, R., & Sullivan, P. L.

citation count

  • 14

complete list of authors

  • Huang, Reyko||Sullivan, Patricia L

publication date

  • July 2021