What We're Reading
October 2018 | Community-Based Armed Groups

For this month’s What We Are Reading, the RESOLVE Network surveys the literature on militias, vigilantes, armed groups, communal security-providers, and non-state conflict in Sub-Saharan Africa. This month, RESOLVE launched a new research and convening project with USAID on Community-Based Armed Groups (CBAGs) in Sub-Saharan Africa. The digest includes academic articles and datasets that map the Sub-Saharan security landscape, governance networks, the identity dynamics of non-state armed actors, their legitimacy, and ways to address political violence. Click the links to learn more.

Article
The Challenge of Community-Based Armed Groups: Towards a Conceptualization of Militias, Gangs, and Vigilantes
Moritz Schuberth
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The proliferation of irregular armed actors which defy simplistic definition has caught public and academic attention alike, not least in the pages of this journal. To move the debate on ...
Article
Militias, Ideology, and the State
Paul Staniland
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Research on militias portrays them as subservient proxies of governments used to achieve tactical goals. The conventional wisdom, however, ignores the diversity of state and militia relat...
Publication
Engaging armed groups
International Committee of the Red Cross
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Most wars today pit states against armed groups, and talking with such groups is therefore vital for all those working to promote compliance with the law and strengthen the protection of ...
Publication
Protectors and Predators: Why Is There a Difference among West African Militias?
William Reno
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West African militias and other nonstate armed groups often appear as agents of disorder. 'Bolstered by cane spirit, marijuana and cheap amphetamines, youths and boy soldiers evolved into...
Article
Regulating Militias: Governments, Militias, and Civilian Targeting in Civil War
Jessica A. Stanton
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In nearly two-thirds of civil wars since 1989, governments have received support in their counterinsurgency operations from militias. Many scholars predict higher levels of violence in co...
Article
Engaging non-state armed groups in humanitarian action
Claudia Hofmann
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Formal actors are faced with vast shortcomings in articulating a legal foundation for engaging non-state armed groups. This essay addresses the difficulties, differences and commonalities...
Publication
Towards a Non-State Security Sector Reform Strategy
Michael Lawrence
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This paper outlines a comprehensive strategy for engaging non-state actors in security sector reform (SSR) by synthesizing the emerging literature on this approach and developing new conc...
Article
Civil War as State-Making: Strategic Governance in Civil War
Megan A. Stewart
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Why do some rebel groups provide governance inclusively while most others do not? Some insurgencies divert critical financial and personnel resources to provide benefits to anyone, includ...
Publication
Cross-border Co-operation Networks in West Africa
Olivier Walther
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Long seen as artificial barriers inherited from decolonisation, West African borders now lie at the heart of policies designed to encourage regional trade and combat political instability...
Publication
The Changing Nature of Warfare and the Absence of State-Building in West Africa
William Reno
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Accounts of war in Africa feature scenes of looting and banditry; greedy, self-interested warlords; and shadowy foreign business agents who profit from disorder. World attention to 'confl...
Article
Non-State Armed Actors, New Imagined Communities, and Shifting Patterns of Sovereignty and Insecurity in the Modern World
Diane E. Davis
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In a world of growing security challenges, non-state armed actors have captured significant attention from scholars concerned with regime stability and the consolidation of national state...
Article
The hidden costs of power-sharing: Reproducing insurgent violence in Africa
Denis M. Tull, Andreas Mehler
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This article analyzes some factors underlying the spread of insurgent violence in Africa. It focuses on the impact external factors have on power struggles on the continent. The first of ...
Article
Wars do end! Changing patterns of political violence in sub-Saharan Africa
Scott Straus
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Contrary to common assumption, major forms of large-scale organized political violence in sub-Saharan Africa are declining in frequency and intensity, and the region is not uniquely prone...
Article
Hybrid security governance, post-election violence and the legitimacy of community-based armed groups in urban Kenya
Moritz Schuberth
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Many cities in contemporary Africa are characterised by hybrid modes of security governance that are co-produced by a variety of state and non-state actors of violence. While the (il)legi...
Publication
Sub-Saharan Security Tracker (SST)
John Campbell
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The Sub-Saharan Security Tracker (SST) draws on data from the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data (ACLED) Project, which documents political conflict across Africa. ACLED collects and ...
Publication
Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED)
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The Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED) is a disaggregated conflict collection, analysis and crisis mapping project. ACLED collects the dates, actors, types of violence, ...
Publication
Pro-Government Militias
Sabine Carey, Neil Mitchell
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The Pro-Government Militias Database codes information on pro-government militas for all countries from 1981 to 2007. We expect our database to be most useful for examining patterns acros...