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Stockholm International Peace Research Institute
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Non-State Actors in Conflict


This project examines the role of armed non-state actors in contemporary conflict. Armed non-state actors include, but are not necessarily limited to, rebel opposition groups, local militias and warlords, as well as vigilante and civil defence groups, when such are clearly operating without state control. The diversification of violence and prevalance of multiple armed groups complicates traditional conflict management and resolution, and poses significant challenge for international security governance more generally. (See also SIPRI project on the privatisation of security). Most contemporary conflicts are intra-state, involving by definition at least one non-state actor, and many are fought without state involvement, between two or more armed groups. Nevertheless, international laws and norms governing the use of force are still understood primarily on the state level. This project examines the different features of various armed groups and asks what can be done to more effectively have an impact on the behaviour of non-state actors, and in the longer term increase the prospects for peace. Specific attention is also given to the transnational nature of many violent non-state actors.


Holmqvist, C.,"Engaging non-state actors in post conflicts settings," (eds.) Bryden, A. and Hänggi, H., Security Governance and Post-conflict Peacebuilding, Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces, DCAF (Berlin: Lit Verlag, 2005).