£26.99 | $47.95

10 March 2011
ISBN: 9781848135277
208 pages
216 x 138mm

Development, International Relations

Militias and the Challenges of Post-Conflict Peace

Silencing the Guns

By Matthew Arnold, Chris Alden, and Monika Thakur

Militias have proven to be a consistent and enduring challenge to achieving peace in war zones around the world. Whether armed by embattled governments in defence of their territory or fostered by external actors in the interests of greed or grievance, these groups occupy an uncertain and deeply controversial position in the changing landscape of conflict. Linked variously to atrocities against civilians or international criminal elements, part of what distinguishes them from more traditional combatants is their willingness to engage in violent tactics that defy international norms as well as a proclivity to embrace expediency in alliance-making. As such, their diversity of form, unorthodox nature and sheer numbers make achieving short-term stability and an enduring peace a consistently difficult proposition.

Bringing together the lessons learned from four intensively-researched case studies - the Democratic Republic of Congo, Timor-Leste, Afghanistan and Sudan - the book argues that the overly rigid 'cookie-cutter' approach to demilitaristation, developed and commonly implemented presently by the international community, is ineffective at meeting the myriad of challenges involving militias. In doing so, the authors propose a radical new framework for demilitarization that questions conventional models and takes into account on-the-ground realities.


'The question of how to deal with armed groups in post-war settings presents a conundrum for academics and practitioners alike. When heavily armed men operate at the interface of states and society as many militia do, the challenge is especially tricky. This impressive volume combines cutting-edge theoretical insights with original qualitative findings from Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan and Timor-Leste. Taken together, Alden, Thakur and Arnold offer readers a rare glimpse into the inner workings of militia groups and signal a number of innovative ways to promote local security.' -- Robert Muggah, Vistiing Professor, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies and Research Director of the Small Arms Survey, Switzerland

'Based on extensive fieldwork, Alden, Thakur and Arnold's analysis of the social basis of militia groups makes a genuine contribution to the growing body of literature questioning conventional DDR models.' - Professor Alice Hills, Chair of Conflict and Security, School of Politics and International Studies, University of Leeds

'Alden, Thakur and Arnold have done a service to the fields of security studies and peace studies. This book sheds new light on how to cope with the challenge posed by militias in conflict environments, drawing on local research in southern Sudan and the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo as well as Afghanistan and Timor-Leste.' -Sumantra Bose, Professor of International and Comparative Politics, London School of Economics and Political Science

'This volume presents a theoretically rigorous and empirically rich analysis of the contemporary phenomena of militias. It is unique in the coherence and rigour with which it approaches this under-theorised and under-researched issue. The interpretive framework developed by the authors will resonate far beyond the individual studies presented here. It is both scholarly and of immediate policy relevance and will be of interest to those involved in issues of post-conflict reconstruction, disarmament, demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR) and security sector reform' - Dr Tim Edmunds, University of Bristol

Table of Contents

List of abbreviations
List of tables
1. Introducing Militias and Demilitarisation
2. Conceptualising Militias: A Framework of Analysis
3. The South Sudan Defence Force
4. The White Army Militias of South Sudan
5. The Mutineers of Timor-Leste
6. Militias in the eastern DRC
7. Afghanistan's Long and Ongoing Experience with Militias
Conclusion: Militias and the Search for Local Security

About the Authors:

Dr Chris Alden is a Reader at the Department of International Relations, London School of Economics. He has published extensively on demilitarization in journals such as Security Dialogue, Journal of Modern African Studies, and Conflict, Security and Development. In addition, he has served as a consultant on these issues in Angola, Mozambique and South Africa. Dr Monika Thakur is currently an Assistant Professor at the Department of Political Science, McMaster University, Canada. Prior to that appointment she taught at the American University in Cairo. She has published on demilitarization in journals such as African Security Review, and Conflict, Security and Development. Dr Matthew Arnold graduated from the Department of International Relations, London School of Economics. He is currently working as a freelance journalist. He has published on demilitarization in journals such as Conflict, Security and Development, Asian Survey, and International Peacekeeping.