Conflict and Fragility

Reports and papers

From violence to politics? Transforming non-conventional armed groups

24 Feb 2015 - 13:09
Source: Latin King / Javier Ramirez / Wikimedia Commons

Is it possible to envisage the use of political incentives as bargaining chips when negotiating with organised crime networks, youth gangs and other “non-conventional” violent actors? What types of political incentives could be provided and what challenges might they represent for democracy? What pitfalls do national and international actors willing to consider new engagement options with non-conventional actors need to consider?

This report discusses the opportunities for and dilemmas of using political incentives as a means to respond to organised violence outside the conventional arena of armed conflict. It suggests refraining from “blacklisting” actors on the basis of their “criminal”, “apolitical” or “non-conflict” nature and turning
instead to other possible options for engagement.

While the report argues that many principles of engagement with conflict parties can be fruitfully transferred to the ambit of non-conventional armed actors, offering incentives for political conversion or reconversion must be approached with great care. This can be done by addressing the particularities of the actors in question, such as their level of social legitimacy and the coherence of their political agenda, as well as the specificities of the context in which they operate, including whether a formal peace process is under way.

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