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An Approach to Armed Non-state Actor Governance

PI: Enrique Arias, George Mason

Year selected for award: 2017

A Nested Mixed-Method Approach to Armed Non-state Actor Governance and the Rule of Law

Principal Investigator: Enrique Desmond Arias, George Mason University and Baruch College, City University of New York

Co-Investigators: Harold Trinkunas, Stanford University; Vanda Felbab-Brown, Brookings Institutions; and Javier Osorio, University of Arizona

Years of Award: 2018-2021

Managing Service Agency:  Army Research Office

Project Description:

This project seeks to understand the conditions and factors that enable armed non-state actors to become the predominant providers of governance to local populations in a given territory and the circumstances under which such non-state governance accrues legitimacy.  This research uses a nested three-phase multi-leveled research design that examines the factors that give rise to and sustain forms of armed non-state governance, using the cases of Afghanistan and Colombia to do so.  Our research includes the development of event data based on natural language processing of news in English and local languages, focused field work in localities subject to different forms of armed non-state actor and incumbent state governance, and experimental survey research. This will enable us to understand the dynamics of popular support for armed non-state actors and the state at the municipal level in Afghanistan and Colombia, two countries with a long history of armed non-state governance activities within their territory.
Our research has, thus far, revealed the importance of both the licit and illicit private sector as well as the official state as key components supporting the formation and legitimacy of armed non-state governance.  The event data models that we have developed have allowed us to automatically process large numbers of publicly available reports to estimate armed non-state actor presence and governance in Colombia.  Research in the next year will focus on Afghanistan.

Select Publications:

Osorio, J., M. Mohamed, V. Pavon, and S. Brewer-Osorio.  Forthcoming 2019. Mapping Violent Presence of Armed Actors in Colombia. Advances in Cartography and GI Science.

Arias, E. D. Accepted for Publication. Responding to Cocaine's Moral Economies. In E. D. Arias and T. Grisaffi. The Moral Economy of the Cocaine Trade.  Durham:  Duke University Press.

Pardo, C., E. D. Arias, and J. Osorio. 2019. Land Grabbing in Armed Conflicts:  Non-State Armed Actors and Property in Colombia. Paper to be Presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, August.