Katrin Wittig

Study program:
Ph.D. Political Science
Current affiliation:
Université de Montréal

She is analyzing the transformation of rebel groups into political parties in the African Great Lakes Region.

Politics in the Shadow of the Gun: The Political Legacies of Rebellion for Party Politics After Civil War

Since the end of the Cold War, policy-makers have advocated for the integration of former rebel groups into the political process perceived as a crucial condition to end civil wars, build peace and promote democracy. Before the fall of the Iron Curtain, rebel groups were often militarily marginalized and politically excluded from peace negotiations. Consequently, even though the formal transformation of rebel groups into political parties has increasingly been recognized as a major challenge for peacebuilding, few scholars have studied the internal and external dynamics of this conversion process. This is even more surprising given that the formal integration of rebel groups into post-accord party politics constitutes an important challenge in many different contexts ranging from Northern Ireland to Kosovo, from El Salvador to Columbia, from Nepal to Indonesia, and from Mozambique to Burundi. How does the history and legacy of armed struggle affect the way in which rebel political parties engage in politics after officially renouncing the armed rebellion? What are specific features of political parties rooted in armed resistance movements? What are the risks and benefits of promoting the formal transformation of rebel groups into political parties? These are questions at the heart of this dissertation project.

Katrin is a doctoral candidate in political science at the Université de Montréal. She is studying the dynamics of civil war and their impact on societies emerging from armed conflict. She is also interested in the benefits and pitfalls of international development and democracy promotion programs. During her PhD studies, she worked with the Great Lakes Team at the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO).

Prior to her PhD, Katrin studied philosophy and political science at the University of Heidelberg, Sciences Po Paris and Columbia University. Throughout her studies, she volunteered with several human rights organizations to organize exhibits to raise public awareness on human rights violations around the world. At Sciences Po, she worked with the Association Bourgogne Balkans Express to hold conferences that brought together European researchers and practitioners to debate the future of the Balkans. She interned at the German Permanent Mission to the United Nations in Geneva and with the Institut français des relations internationales (Ifri) in Paris. Between her MA and PhD studies, she worked with a pan-African consultancy in Libreville and at UN Headquarters in New York, in particular on the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals.