From Control to Conflict: A Spectrum and Framework for Understanding Government-Militia Relationships

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How can we describe and categorize government relationships with pro-government militias (PGMs)? Most research tends to focus on government sponsorship of PGMs. This entails a cooperative relationship and government delegation to PGMs. Yet most government-PGM relations are nuanced, complex, and are often fraught with uncertainty and even conflict and hostility. In this article we discuss the conceptualization of PGMs vis-à-vis a government or state, we then discuss the complexities of government-PGM relations, and then develop a spectrum framework to categorize these relationships. We classify government-PGM relations based on their alignment of interests/objectives, the degree to which a government has control over a PGM and their balance of power, and the extent to which a government provides material support to a PGM. We introduce five categories – government control, delegation, cooperation, acquiescence, and conflict. This spectrum framework aids in a better understanding of the nuances in government-PGM relationships, includes under-explored aspects of their possible relations, such as competition/conflict, and how these relations change over time.
Original languageEnglish
JournalStudies in Conflict and Terrorism
Early online date12 Sept 2022
Publication statusEarly online date - 12 Sept 2022


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