Armed non-state actors: a brief attempt at a portrayal
Michael von der Schulenburg

Although ANSAs are now central to armed conflicts worldwide, there is no agreed definition about who or what they are. Proposed definitions appear to focus on terrorism and security issues, ignoring the fact that ANSAs are far more complex social and political phenomena. To recapture their diversity, it might be better to define ANSAs more widely as organized and structured groups that: (a) replace state authorities in controlling partly or fully the lives of groups of populations; (b) challenge states’ monopolies of the use of force in pursuit of their political and/or criminal aims; (c) operate outside any international law and international conventions; and (d) are not legally recognized entities.

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