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Choosing to engage: Armed groups and peace processes

Non-state armed groups are central figures in internal armed conflicts.  Their objectives and use of violence spark controversy about appropriate responses to their action, particularly in the context of the ‘war on terror’. Yet over the past two decades, armed groups have taken part in peace processes on every continent, resulting in many experiences of dialogue and peace negotiations.

Accord 16 explores the case for engagement with armed groups and the lessons learned from peacemaking practice. Highlighting both opportunities and challenges, it suggests that the range of engagement options and potential interveners makes a strong case for engagement.

With analytical overviews and 12 case studies, the publication combines the voices of armed groups, governments and intermediaries to offer a rich and varied set of views on:  

  • understanding armed groups
  • armed groups’ choices about peacemaking
  • political and humanitarian engagement options
  • roles of governmental and non-governmental actors
  • the impact of power relations in a state-based international system.

The publication also contains selected key texts and agreements between armed groups, governments and NGOs.

A Spanish version has been produced by Indepaz in Colombia: Opciones de compromiso: Acercamientos con grupos armados en procesos de paz [PDF download, 1.2mb]. 

An updated policy brief (September 2009) offers guidance on the characteristics of armed groups and how to engage with them at different stages of a peace process.

This issue of Accord was edited by Robert Ricigliano.

The[se] publications, and of course the work on which they are based, are the most lucid, original and constructive of works on some of the most urgent and intransigent of the world’s trouble spots.

Professor Adam Curle, Department of Peace Studies, University of Bradford


Issue editor