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What should the relationship between governments and the international community be with armed groups, and how might that connection be managed responsibly? USIP Senior Fellow Bruce Oswald explores the matter and the challenges involved.

Summary

  • In some situations armed groups engage in law and order functions and tasks.
  • In situations where local communities have no access to official law and order, communities sometimes must rely on armed groups to protect them from crime. In such cases the international community must decide what their relationship is to be with the armed group and how best to manage that relationship.

About this Brief

This Peace Brief is based on the author’s research concerning armed groups in places such as Afghanistan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Bruce ‘Ossie’ Oswald is an associate professor of Law at Melbourne Law School and Jennings Randolph senior fellow (2012-2013). Oswald’s interest in armed groups stems from his military service in places such as Rwanda, East Timor, Iraq, and Afghanistan. His academic research interests are in international humanitarian law, international human rights law, and post-conflict state-building. The author would like to thank Erica Gaston, Vivienne O’Connor and Beth Wellington for their very helpful comments on earlier drafts of this brief.

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