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Zahar, Marie-Joelle

Full Professor

  • Scientific Director, Réseau de recherche sur les opérations de paix, CÉRIUM


  • Telephone 514-343-6111 #20325 Pav. PAV.M.CARON-L.GROULX-3200 J.B. \ Ext. C4038


Zahar, Marie-Joelle

Research expertise

For over 10 years now, I have been conducting research into political violence. I specialize in militias, and I study the ways non-state armed groups organize themselves and the territory under their control, and manage their relations with civilians living in these territories. I am also interested in analyzing political violence in the context of transition between a state of war and a post-conflict situation. When and under what conditions do the different protagonists in an internal conflict take up arms again, and why? What strategies can external stakeholders use to prevent political violence from derailing peace agreements? My analyses in this field question the value of the concept of a saboteur, which is generally used as the most widespread explanation for political violence in transitional contexts.

More generally, my research concerns conflict resolution and peace consolidation. I take a comparative approach and I have done field work in many places in the Near East, in sub-Saharan Africa and in the Balkans. I recently examined the impact of programs to promote democracy as part of peace consolidation operations and undertook a research program on international assistance for organizing and holding elections in post-conflict situations.

Areas of expertise

Current projects

  • Beyond Democratic Symbolism: elections as a tool of conflict-management in war-to-peace transitions


  • Rex Brynen, Pete W. Moore, Bassel F. Salloukh and Marie-Joëlle Zahar, Beyond the Arab Spring: Authoritarianism and Democratization in the Arab World. Lynne Rienner 2012. 
  • Marie-Joëlle Zahar, “Norm Transmission in Peace and State Building: Lessons from Democracy Promotion in the Sudan and Lebanon,” Global Governance, vol. 18 (2012), pp. 73-88. 
  • Stephen Saideman and Marie-Joëlle Zahar, eds. Intra-State Conflicts, Governments and Security: Dilemmas of Deterrence and Assurance. London: Routledge, 2008, 252p. 
  • Marie-Joëlle Zahar, “Political Violence in Peace Processes: Voice, Exit and Loyalty in the Post-Accord Period,” In John Darby, ed. Violence and Reconstruction. Volume 1, Research Initiative on the Resolution of Ethnic Conflict Series. Southbend: Notre Dame University Press, 2006. Pp. 33-51. 
  • Marie-Joëlle Zahar, “Power Sharing in Lebanon: Foreign Protectors, Domestic Peace, and Democratic Failure,” In Donald Rothchild and Philip Roeder, eds. Sustainable Peace: Power and Democracy after Civil Wars. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2005. Pp. 219-240.

Courses given in the School this term

Directed theses and dissertations available in Papyrus