Author: Dr Vanda Felbab-Brown, Dr Phil Williams
Although challenges posed by various kinds of violent armed groups initially appear highly diverse and unrelated to one another, in fact they all reflect the increasing connections between security and governance and, in particular, the relationship between poor governance and violent armed groups. In many cases, these groups are overtly challenging the state; in others they are cooperating and colluding with state structures while subtly undermining them; in yet others, the state is a passive bystander while violent armed groups are fighting one another. The mix is different, the combinations vary, and the perpetrators of violence have different motives, methods, and targets. In spite of their divergent forms, violent nonstate actors (VNSAs) share certain qualities and characteristics. These violent armed groups represent a common challenge to national and international security, a challenge that is far greater than the sum of the individual groups, and that is likely to grow rather than diminish over the next several decades. This monograph focuses on the complex relationship between human security, crime, illicit economies, and law enforcement. It also seeks to disentangle the linkages between insurgency on the one hand and drug trafficking and organized crime on the other, suggesting that criminal activities help sustain an insurgency, but also carry certain risks for the insurgency.