Militias and the Challenges of Post-Conflict Peace

Silencing the Guns

Chris Alden, Monika Thakur, and Matthew Arnold


This book argues that the approach to demilitaristation developed by the international community is ineffective at dealing with the challenges of militias.
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.

Author Bio

Chris Alden is a Reader at the Department of International Relations, London School of Economics.

Monika Thakur is currently an Assistant Professor at the Department of Political Science, McMaster University, Canada.

Matthew Arnold graduated from the Department of International Relations, London School of Economics. He is currently working as a freelance journalist.

Table of Contents

  • List of Abbreviations 
  • List of Tables 
  • Preface 
  • 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 
  • Bibliography 
  • Notes


'This impressive volume offers readers a rare glimpse into the inner workings of militia groups and signal a number of innovative ways to promote local security.'
Robert Muggah, 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.'
Alice Hills, Chair of Conflict and Security, School of Politics and International Studies, University of Leeds

'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

'Unique in the coherence and rigour with which it approaches this under-theorised and under-researched issue.'
Tim Edmunds, University of Bristol


Publication Date: 10 March 2011
208 pages

Product ISBNs: Paperback: 9781848135277
Hardback: 9781848135260
eBook ePub: 9781780321172
eBook PDF: 9781848135284
eBook Kindle: 9781780322322

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