Diamonds in the Rough: A Comparative Case Study of the Casamance Conflict and the Sierra Leone Civil war

Open Access
Kowey, Emily M
Area of Honors:
International Politics
Bachelor of Arts
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Douglas William Lemke, Thesis Supervisor
  • Michael Barth Berkman, Honors Advisor
  • blood diamond
  • rebel recruitment
  • resource curse
  • African civil conflict
  • civilian casualties
This thesis offers a qualitative, comparative case study analysis detailing the Casamance Conflict in Senegal and the Sierra Leone Civil War. Through the exploration of theoretical, historical, and motivational implications of each rebellion, I aim to illustrate that the availability of lootable natural resources (specifically secondary diamond deposits) to those insurgent forces is correlated with the inclination of these insurgencies to engage in indiscriminate violent behavior. I elaborate on previously explored hypotheses that the accessibility of exploitable materials increases the likelihood rebel groups will mistreat the civilian population and that, conversely, rebel movements that are not endowed with lootable high-value minerals are more inclined to practice restraint in toward noncombatants. The logic behind these speculations is presented in the Hobbesian Theory of self interest: insurgencies already well endowed with resources have no need to appeal for grassroots support while, by contrast, rebels who cannot boast of access to said resources have an increased need for civilian cooperation due to the resources and recruits that these noncombatants can provide.