Private militia and armies are a common feature in contemporary violent conflicts and pose a major challenge in the search for peace internationally. Yet, very little research and analysis have been dedicated to those groups so far. A new study entitled Armed Violence in Mindanao: Militia and private armies, seeks to contribute to closing this research gap, and suggests how the prevalence of private armies, militias, and vigilante forces can be curbed.
Focusing on the case of militia and private armies active in Mindanao in the southern Philippines, the report, produced by the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue (HD Centre) and the Institute of Bangsamoro Studies, provides an in-depth analysis of those groups and the underlying reasons for their proliferation in the region. It calls for the disbanding of all organised armed civilian militia through a phased approach.
“In places such as Mindanao, militia have emerged to fill the vacuum left by ineffective state security services and the weak rule of law,” said Michael Vatikiotis, HD Centre Regional Director for Asia. “If we are to tackle these groups effectively, underlying issues such as security sector reform, the black market for arms and even the education system must all be addressed”.
The study notes the weak public security in Mindanao as a key reason for the proliferation of these groups in the region. It also demonstrates that strong economic and educational reasons further drive the existence of such militia.
The study addresses these issues as well as others common to militia-related problems internationally. These include institutional reform, as well as civil society efforts to aid development and improve the capacity of local dispute resolution methods.
This publication is the last in a series of three produced as a result of the HD Centre’s project, Comparative Perspectives on Conflict Management in Asia, which sought to analyse conflict management and resolution approaches in Asia. The previous two publications focused on conflict resolution approaches in India and Indonesia.
The HD Centre wishes to express its sincere appreciation to the MacArthur Foundation (Asia Security Initiative) for its financial support for this study.