Vigilante groups and militias play a crucial role in dispensing force and controlling security in weak states. Acknowledging the significance of non-state actors is necessary to reconnect our understanding of security governance with empirical realities outside the OECD world. In principal, militias can be an alternative to state security forces, but in practice their impact on public safety is often ambivalent. The question is therefore whether and under which circumstances these groups can provide security as a public good and how they interact with other actors. Recent attempts to extend governance analysis to weak states can help us understand the complexity of civil militias and their behaviour. This paper develops an analytical framework to study security provision by non-state actors based on their security output and their interactions with society and the state, and applies it to two Nigerian militias—the Bakassi Boys and the Oodua People’s Congress. The cases illustrate how security providers can easily turn into security threats, and they shed light on the impact of non-state actors on security governance, not only in Nigeria, but in weak states including such high-profile cases like Iraq and Afghanistan.
Sebastian Mertz homepage: https://www.linkedin.com/pub/sebastian-merz/28/828/515
Mertz, Sebastian, Security by Militia, but for Whom? Non-State Actors and Security Governance in Nigeria, Simons Papers in Security and Development, No. 9/2010, School for International Studies, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, December 2010.
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