Non-State Security Providers and Political Formation in Conflict-Affected States


Funding Source: Gerda Henkel Foundation
Period of Operations: 2013 – ongoing
Location: Afghanistan, Somalia and South Sudan

Project Description

This project considers new aspects of the relationship between security and development by examining how the presence of non-state security providers affects political development in conflict-affected societies. The established “security-development nexus” maintains that security and development are mutually reinforcing, and conversely that insecurity and underdevelopment are mutually reinforcing. While these links are of obvious importance, more recent work suggests two other relationships of equal significance: between insecurity and development insofar as violent conflict may fuel political formation; and between underdevelopment and security insofar as supposedly “underdeveloped” areas may feature unique and unconventional security structures. The project explores these largely uncharted relationships by examining processes of political formation in societies that host a diverse array of non-state security providers and assessing the effects of the latter on processes of state formation, deliberate state-building interventions and the emergence of unconventional governance structures.

Drawing on three case studies—Afghanistan, Somalia and South Sudan—the project’s main research question is: how does the presence of diverse non-state security providers affect the process of state formation? The overarching goal of the project is to stimulate a discourse and make initial policy recommendations on how donors can better engage non-state security structures in the context of SSR and broader state-building programs.

Research Outputs and Publications

CSG Paper No. 5 – Non-State Security Providers and Political Formation in Somalia

By Ken Menkhaus.

This paper shows that non-state security providers will remain a central feature of the Somali political landscape into the foreseeable future, and the Somali state will be forced to negotiate messy and fluid partnerships with these actors.

CSG Paper No. 4 – Non-State Security Providers and Political Formation in South Sudan: The Case of Western Equatoria’s Arrow Boys

By Mareike Schomerus and Anouk S. Rigterink

This paper analyzes the impact of the arrow boys, a militia in South Sudan’s south-western region established as a civilian protection mechanism, and the resurgence of support for reinstating a particular position of traditional leadership, the Zande King, on security governance and state formation in South Sudan.

CSG Paper No. 3 – Non-State Security Providers and Political Formation in Afghanistan

By Deedee Derksen.

This paper examines how diverse non-state security providers – warlords, tribal leaders and local strongmen – affect the process of state formation and statebuilding in Afghanistan.

Events and Workshops


May 5-6, 2016
The Centre for Security Governance held a workshop on May 5-6 on Non-State Security Providers and Political Formation in Conflict-Affected States at the Balsillie School of International Affairs in Waterloo, Canada.