When Protection Collapses: Post-Demobilization Trajectories of Violence
35 Pages Posted: 12 Jun 2013 Last revised: 28 Sep 2016
Date Written: June 11, 2014
The implementation of peacebuilding activities, including the demobilization of non-state illegal actors, does not necessarily bring about a reduction in violence. While there are several theories that address the causes of persistent violence, there are few that adequately explain why rates of violence can rapidly increase in a post-demobilization context. Using the method of process tracing, this paper explores the case of Córdoba Department, Colombia where rates of violence have increased after the demobilization of paramilitary groups (AUC) in 2005. We argue that the AUC created and maintained a monopolistic illegal protection system during its years of operation, and this type of local order was able to contain violence. After demobilization, the protection system was disrupted and as a consequence, new competition between post-demobilization criminal organizations for existing illegal rents developed, petty crime became pervasive and revenge killings spiked, thus contributing to increased rates of violence in the post-demobilization period. Our theory about the breakdown of protection finds support in other AUC dominated regions of Colombia.
Note: A revised version of this paper is published in Terrorism and Political Violence, DOI: 10.1080/09546553.2014.955916
Keywords: peacebuilding, post-conflict, demobilization, non-state armed groups, violence, illegal protection, Colombia
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation