Researchers and policy-makers alike are increasingly aware of the need to understand the motivations of non-state armed groups and to engage with them in order to prevent, manage and mitigate impacts on human security and international peace. In this context, the idea is taking ground that these conflict actors have the potential to evolve into partners for statebuilding and peacebuilding endeavours when their transformation into legal political entities is adequately accompanied and supported.
This new study, developed in collaboration with UNDP, seeks to identify ways and provide recommendations for external actors to effectively support this transition of non-state armed groups into peaceful political entities. The paper provides key insight on the factors that might explain why some armed groups undergo effective transformations from engaging in war and violence to participating in peaceful political processes, while others fail to implement or consolidate their political project. Highlighting the critical role played by the UN system in these contexts, it argues that development actors such as UNDP are also well placed to bring a broad range of expertise and instruments when supporting these transformative processes.
The findings in this paper are based on the results of collaborative research activities on armed groups and their transition to peaceful politics carried out by the Berghof Foundation since 2006, which have been substantially enriched through scholarly resources, lessons learned from internal UNDP discussions, as well as a three-day retreat on the political transformation of armed and banned groups in June 2014 in Naivasha, Kenya.