Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Violent Momentum: Paramilitary Demobilization, Grey Zones and the Search for Wealth in Contemporary Colombia
by Howe, Kimberly Lynn, Ph.D., Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy (Tufts University), 2012, 381; 3516404
Abstract (Summary)

Why are countries that transition from conflict to peace often characterized by high levels of violence? In 2006, Colombia disarmed, demobilized and reintegrated [DDR] its most lethal armed group, the paramilitaries [AUC]. While the national homicide rate has since dropped, there is substantial heterogeneity in rates of violence within the country. This project utilizes mixed methods to evaluate both the impact of DDR on rates of violence, as well as to identify the drivers of violence in Colombia at the sub-national level. A fixed effects econometric model was specified utilizing panel data for each municipality in the country [n=1097] over a 13-year period [1997-2010]. A positive relationship was found between the demobilization of paramilitaries and the homicide rate. In other words, the more combatants who demobilized to an area, the higher the homicide rate in the post-demobilization period, holding other causes of homicide constant. These findings run counter to the general goals of DDR to improve security. In order to address this puzzle, four qualitative case studies were conducted in Montería, Santa Marta, Tierralta and Ciénaga. This study found that armed groups will form or reconfigure regardless of DDR in areas where there are opportunities to access illegal rents and where the state is weak at the local level. Illegal rents identified include: coca fields, laboratory locations, drug transport corridors, land grabbing, front men, protection rackets and urban markets including local drug consumption, extortion and money laundering. Violence is generated when armed groups combat for territorial control over these areas and when civilians obstruct the operation of these illegal groups. Three types of local state weakness were identified: state absence, state inefficiency or misalignment with on-the-ground realities, and corruption. Violence is generated because the local state cannot provide protection to civilians, civilians do not view the local state as legitimate and they develop parallel systems of authority or engage in vigilantism, and/or because the local justice system is inefficient and criminals operate with impunity. Findings from this study provide valuable information for policy makers and peacebuilders and have implications for other conflict affected countries.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Uvin, Peter
Commitee: Jacobsen, Karen, Muggah, Robert
School: Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy (Tufts University)
Department: Diplomacy, History, and Politics
School Location: United States -- Massachusetts
Source: DAI-A 73/11(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Latin American Studies, International Relations, Political science
Keywords: Causes of violence, Colombia, DDR, Demobilization, Governance, Mixed methods, Paramilitary, Rents
Publication Number: 3516404
ISBN: 978-1-267-45725-7
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