Moritz Schuberth

Transforming Community-Based Armed Groups into Community Security Providers

Cover page

While community-based armed groups (CBAGs) have been found to engage in political violence on behalf of their sponsors and to commit crimes for self-motivated reasons, in many contexts, including parts of sub-Saharan Africa, they are also among the main providers of security. In some cases, CBAGs in sub-Saharan Africa enjoy higher local legitimacy than state security forces due to their strong links to local cultural practices and greater alignment with social attitudes and community norms. CBAGs may be the best available option for justice and security provision in the short term given the ineffectiveness of state security actors. However, CBAGs have the potential to be both providers of security and sources of insecurity. This policy note provides recommendations for intervening actors to reinforce the constructive potential of CBAGs and limit their destructive potential. These recommendations—including the presence of oversight procedures, a binding legal framework, and accountability mechanisms—can help transform multidimensional CBAGs into more accountable, capable, and rule-abiding providers of community security.


Suggested citation:

Schuberth, Moritz. Transforming Community-Based Armed Groups into Community Security Providers. Washington, D.C.: RESOLVE Network, 2020.