Strong militias, weak states and armed violence: towards a theory of ‘state-parallel’ paramilitaries

Aliyev, H. (2016) Strong militias, weak states and armed violence: towards a theory of ‘state-parallel’ paramilitaries. Security Dialogue, 47(6), pp. 498-516. (doi: 10.1177/0967010616669900)

151638.pdf - Accepted Version



This article challenges the well-established presentation within conflict studies of paramilitary organizations as state-manipulated death squads or self-defence groups, and argues that some present-day militias extend their functions well beyond the role of shadowy pro-regime enforcers. Drawing its empirical insights from Ukrainian pro-government volunteer battalions and supporting its findings with empirical observations from other parts of the world, the article posits that the rise of powerful militia organizations acting in parallel with the state makes it imperative to revisit the theory and typology of paramilitary violence. The key theoretical argument of the article is that ‘state-parallel’ militias differ qualitatively from the ‘state-manipulated’ paramilitaries that are typical of the Cold War period. The article shows that although ‘state-parallel’ paramilitaries are not a new phenomenon, they have thus far remained critically understudied and undertheorized.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:The research for this article was funded by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Aliyev, Dr Huseyn
Authors: Aliyev, H.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Central and East European Studies
Journal Name:Security Dialogue
Publisher:SAGE Publications
ISSN (Online):1460-3640
Published Online:03 November 2016
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2016 The Author
First Published:First published in Security Dialogue 47(6): 498-516
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the publisher copyright policy

University Staff: Request a correction | Enlighten Editors: Update this record