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Home > Resources > CONSTRUCTIVELY ENGAGING NON-STATE ARMED GROUPS IN ASIA: MINDING THE GAPS, (...)

CONSTRUCTIVELY ENGAGING NON-STATE ARMED GROUPS IN ASIA: MINDING THE GAPS, HARNESSING SOUTHERN PERSPECTIVES

Friday 8 November 2013, by siawi3

By SOLIMAN M. SANTOS, JR. (1)
South-South Network (SSN) for Non-State Armed Group Engagement (2)
Naga City, Philippines, March 2010

This extended essay synthesizes my own private studying and reflections on the work of constructively engaging non-state armed groups (NSAGs), and the relevant insights and fresh perspectives from research, including from exchanging notes with other scholars, practitioners and policy researchers who are in related fields. This essay calls attention to and shares this relatively new or novel area of needed work; consolidates the case or arguments for it; places it in the bigger historical and global picture, especially in Asia; reviews the relatively well-developed work in three main fields; points out the gaps in terms of underdeveloped fields and of perspectives; presents the motive forces and key arenas for promoting and further developing this work; and proposes what is to be done to move forward with this work in Asia.

OUTLINE/TABLE OF CONTENTS

I. Definitions and Clarifications of Terms [pp. 3-6]
NON-STATE ARMED GROUPS, TERRORISM, NON-STATE ACTORS, TYPOLOGIES OF NSAGs

II. Rationale for Constructive Engagement [pp. 7-9]

III. Placing this Work in Context and in Perspective: The Bigger Picture [pp. 10-13]

IV. Asia as a Cradle of NSAGs (Not Just Civilizations) [pp. 14- 17]

V. Review of Related Work on Constructive Engagement of NSAGs [pp. 18-29]
HUMANITARIAN ENGAGEMENT, HUMAN RIGHTS ENGAGEMENT, PEACE PROCESS ENGAGEMENT

VI. Mind the Gaps: Underdeveloped Fields in Constructive Engagement of NSAGs [pp. 30-44]
INTERNATIONAL HUMANITARIAN LAW, HUMAN RIGHTS, TALKING AND NEGOTIATING WITH TERRORISTS, BEYOND HOSTILITIES, DEMOCRATIZATION, THE GENDER QUESTION, DEVELOPMENT, GOVERNANCE, MORAL AND ETHICAL RENEWAL, ARTS AND SCIENCES, SOME QUESTIONS/DILEMMAS

VII. Gaps in Developing Perspectives and Approaches for this Work [pp. 45-67]
SOUTHERN PERSPECTIVE, Academic Imperialism, NGO Imperialism, COMPLEMENTARY OR ALTERNATIVE NORMATIVE FRAMEWORKS, Regional Cultural Traditions, Religious Teachings, Revolutionary Doctrines

VIII. Motive Forces for Promoting and Further Developing this Work [pp. 68-76]

IX. Constructively Engaging States for the Non-Governmental Work of Constructively Engaging NSAGs [pp. 77-81]

X. What Is To Be Done? [pp. 82-83]


I. Definitions and Clarifications of Terms

NON-STATE ARMED GROUPS (NSAGs) refer mainly to rebel or insurgent groups (3), i.e. groups that are armed, use force to achieve their political/quasi-political objectives, and are opposed to or autonomous from the state (4). These include secessionist movements and so-called “terrorist” groups, inc. the international or transnational NSAGs like Al-Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiyah. Not included as NSAGs are state-controlled militias or paramilitaries, civil defense units, mercenaries, private military and security companies, proxy armed forces and the like.

In a global regional and country survey of NSAGs in 2001 of a Non-State Actors Database (NSA-DBA) (5), a total of about 310 NSAGs were listed broken down among five regions as follows (with one example for each, to have a sense of the groups we are talking about): Asia – 124 (LTTE, Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in Sri Lanka); Africa – 102 (ex. SPLM/A, Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army); Middle East – 34 (ex. HAMAS, Islamic Resistance Movement in Palestine); Europe – 32 (ex. IRA, Irish Republican Army); and Americas – 18 (ex. FARC, Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia). The countries with more than 20 NSAGs listed were all in Asia: Burma/Myanmar – 34; Pakistan (inc. Kashmir) – 24; and India – 22. Of course, since 2001, some of those NSAGs listed have become defunct, but new ones have also emerged.

Elsewhere, NSAGs have been referred to variously as (simply) “armed groups,” “armed opposition groups,” “dissident armed forces,” “organised armed groups,” “rebel groups,” “insurgent groups,” “guerrilla groups,” or “irregular armed groups/forces.” Some of these have preferred to be referred to, especially by themselves, as “revolutionary forces,” “(national) liberation forces,” “resistance forces,” and “freedom fighting forces.” The latter of course brings to mine the tired cliché that “one person’s freedom fighter is another’s terrorist,” which implies a moral equivalence that should be rejected(6). It is therefore best to be also particularly clear about the meaning of “terrorist” since it has often been used, rightly or wrongly, to describe a number of NSAGs.

TERRORISM. Terror or terrorism, it has been said, is a tactic or more precisely a mode of combat (7), just like guerrilla warfare is. These may also be strategies, not just tactics, and may be used by both states and NSAGs. At the same time, the political/quasi-political objectives (“ends”) of NSAGs can be sometimes overshadowed or colored by their use of armed force (“means”). Thus, certain NSAGs may be validly characterized as “terrorist” when that mode of combat dominates its use of armed force, when there is a clear and consistent pattern, plan or policy (in short, something systematic or strategic) of terrorist acts or methods by those NSAGs. And again, the same characterization can be made for certain states which fit this bill.

We can go along with the emerging definition or concept in the United Nations (UN), as capsulized by former Secretary-General Kofi Annan, whereby “any action constitutes terrorism if it is intended to cause death or serious bodily harm to civilians or non-combatants, with the purpose of intimidating a population or compelling a Government or an international organization to do or abstain from doing any act.” (8) He also said relevantly: “We do not need to argue whether States can be guilty of terrorism, because deliberate use of force by States against civilians is already clearly prohibited under international law. As for the right to resist occupation, it must be understood in its true meaning. It cannot include the right to deliberately kill or maim civilians.” (9)

NON-STATE ACTORS (NSAs). One other term which has been used to refer to NSAGs needs clarification: “non-state actors” (NSAs). We did not include this in our enumeration of terms above because it really refers to a very broad category of those other than sovereign independent nation-states (basically those recognized by the UN) and their agents. It includes non-governmental organizations, business/multinational/transnational corporations, international organizations, some sub-national ethnic entities, private individuals, and NSAGs. The latter have alternatively been termed “armed non-state actors” (ANSAs) (10) or “non-state armed actors” (NSAAs). What might be noted, however, is the expressed objection of certain NSAGs, like notably the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and the LTTE, to the “non-state” qualification on the ground that they are or claim to be presiding over de facto states or provisional governments in territories they control where the people give them a measure of allegiance (but also provisional governments in exile but with dissident armed forces in the home country).

On the other hand, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in the Philippines is exceptional in its embrace of the term NSA, which it sees as being pragmatic about the reality in international relations and avoiding the vulnerability of prematurely attempting to play with states at their own game, which it is not yet ready for in terms of political and legal development. It sees the term NSA as reflecting a certain maturing political (not yet legal) status for a force with both an “armed wing” and “political wing,” and engaging simultaneously in political negotiations, diplomatic work and defensive armed struggle (11). It sees the term NSA or ANSA as compatible with new Islamic international relations (siyar) theory that contemplates of “crossbreed” and “homegrown” national liberation movements (NLMs) which intersect between armed and non-armed struggle, like the Islamic resistance movements which use the hudna (unilateral ceasefire), for example, the Palestinian Hamas (12).

From roving rebel bands to de facto governments or regimes is indeed a wide range of NSAGs. In fact, in some cases, certain NSAGs become part of the de jure government but still retain their distinct armed forces (or “one foot in and one foot out” of government), like Hamas and the Lebanese Hizbullah, esp. during a period of post-conflict or post-settlement transition. Sometimes, when the transition fails, they revert to armed struggle and full non-state status.

TYPOLOGIES OF NSAGs. To be sure, there are any number of typologies of NSAGs. One current typology by American political scientist Jeremy M. Weinstein uses the terms “activist” (ideologically motivated, with social endowments) and “opportunistic” (economically motivated and endowed) to distinguish two kinds of rebellions and consequently rebel groups. Corollary to this is a typology of current armed conflicts: (1) those to capture the political center or the state; (2) those for secession of a part of the state; and (3) those which use violence but have no interest in territorial control (e.g. certain ideologically-motivated terrorism)(13). All these types may be said to come under activist rebellion. Opportunistic or predatory rebellions tend to be less of real rebellions and to border more on criminality. A relevant contrast in characterizations has been made by the Small Arms Survey when it referred to the general run of NSAGs in West Africa as “armed and aimless,”(14) while those in Southeast Asia as “primed and purposeful.” (15)

Canadian human rights lawyer David Matas had in fact already early on (in 1997) divided NSAGs into two categories: “criminal” and “political.” (16) But these categorizations can be blurred in the field, with elements of both in practice (17), and can also be fluid such as when the political degenerates to the criminal, or the activist to the opportunistic. Other modern authors like English historian Ian F.W. Beckett also speak of “spiritual insurgencies in response to modernization and globalization, embracing elements of natavism” and of “commercial (or economic) insurgencies, in which mineral resources or drugs have been the real prize of a cynical quest for power.” (18)

The point of all this is to indicate that the main NSAGs for constructive engagement are the rebel/insurgent groups that are political and ideological, in short, activist. But the report writer of Ends & Means, Canadian human rights policy specialist David Petrasek, has elsewhere issued an important caveat about the “need to be cautious in preparing any typology, or in arriving at any general conclusions concerning their likely behavior.”(19) There is no substitute for concrete analysis of each concrete NSAG as a guide to action for constructive engagement.

CONSTRUCTIVE ENGAGEMENT is the dialogical and persuasive process of seeking to positively influence NSAGs in so far as their operations affect the lives of people and communities. This process entails direct and deliberate contact with NSAGs and encompasses the spectrum of communicating activities, esp. the classic acts of dialogue, negotiation, facilitation and mediation (20). One international peace NGO suggests an inclusive definition of engagement in terms of interaction and participation (21). This has to be clarified or qualified because “engagement” also has a very military connotation.

Not contemplated in constructive engagement are counter-insurgency, counter-terrorism in the usual sense these days, military engagement, law enforcement, criminal prosecution, economic sanctions and other coercive/repressive processes or “hard” policy instruments/measures against NSAGs. Coming from such directions would compromise the requisite neutrality and impartiality of the engaging entity or person, and thus prejudice or prevent constructive engagement. Of course, it is also necessary to study the implications of those “hard” measures on the overall effort of constructive engagement. To be sure, there are “borderline” or “grey” areas between constructive and “constrictive” engagement of NSAGs, and one would be criminal prosecution for their legal accountability for violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. Constructive or “constrictive” here would depend on the motivations and, to certain extent, the kind of tribunal.

A field consultant and campaigner colleague from Colombia, Eduardo Marino, who once did extensive field work in Sri Lanka, speaks of both constructive and “unconstructive” engagement there in these disturbing outcomes: “One of my conclusions in Sri Lanka was about unconstructive engagement as from the side of the Buddhist Sangha [Singhalese nation] – which finally won the war. Whereas, the Catholic Church engaged constructively, finally seeing everything lost.”(22) “Unconstructive” here refers to pro-war, while constructive refers to pro-peace process. In Sri Lanka, the peace process lost out to a military solution – but the sustainability of this remains to be seen. While constructive engagement of NSAGs is not always the path taken or to be taken, or does not always succeed, there still is good enough rationale for it.

II. Rationale for Constructive Engagement

This case for constructive engagement of NSAGs has been well-argued, if not already established, esp. for humanitarian and peace purposes. It’s now more a matter of consolidating and mainstreaming this argument, clinching the legitimacy of this work, and developing it in new fields.

The importance of this work lies in the role that NSAGs play or can play, for better or for worse, in the world today, particularly in areas they control or where they operate, areas where poor or vulnerable people are usually found. NSAGs affect the lives of people, whether in situations of armed conflict and of insurgent transitions, e.g. from war to peace, from authoritarianism to democracy. In fact, NSAGs sometimes later become governments or part of them (conversely stated, many states were formerly NSAGs). In these cases, the shape of the state or government is often determined by the shaping of its precursor NSAG.

NSAGs have become the dominant face of modern warfare and now have a central role in contemporary armed conflict (23). Some of them have already emerged as global actors and they are increasingly becoming subjects of international law.(24) Since the early 1990s, no less than the UN Security Council has been increasingly dealing with NSAGs in its agenda, thereby highlighting their “visibility and political importance.”(25) The greater the threat of NSAGs to human security of innocent civilians, the greater also the need for humanitarian among other forms of engagement of these NSAGs. The current post-9/11 environment is such that it is particularly difficult to engage with NSAGs at a time when there is a desperate need to do so (26). Whatever the illegitimacy of NSAGs should not detract from the legitimacy of efforts to engage them constructively in the interest of human security.

Yet, there are gaps to be filled in understanding, analytical tools, frameworks, approaches and mechanisms for dealing with and influencing NSAGs in the state-oriented global order. This itself should be considered part of the rationale for engagement, as only through engagement can these gaps be filled. This non-state or NSAG dimension or side of the real world order should give some pause to concerned scholars, practitioners and policy researchers, esp. in Asia. Colombian diplomat Andres Franco, himself once a representative on the UN Security Council, noted that representatives there have had difficulty in grappling with NSAGs in its agenda, thus: “Representatives must incorporate in their statements the fact that ANSAs are substantially different from states and that, consequently, they operate under a different political logic and respond to different political signals. They must struggle to come up with ideas and instruments to target an actor that is strange, distant, and hard to comprehend in a New York ambiance...”(27)

The Accord 2005 thematic issue on “Choosing to engage: Armed groups and peace processes” summed up the arguments on why engagement, per se, is important(28): [with bracketed remarks by this essay’s author]
1. The need to protect the local population.
2. Armed groups hold the key to ending violence [or the armed conflict – with whom do you engage to resolve this? Of course, the state is the other side of the coin.].
3. Engagement increases the chances of a settlement process. [Settlement is not always achieved but with no engagement there is no chance for it.]
4. Lack of engagement can strengthen hardliners [warmongers on both sides].
5. Attempts at military-only solutions are rarely able to address the issues that gave rise to conflict and may exacerbate tensions (29).
Though not an open-and-shut case for constructive engagement, these arguments for (and other overall considerations) generally prevail against the arguments against. The latter usually coming from the government side: that such engagement provides legitimacy, recognition, belligerency status, a propaganda platform and other such tactical advantages to the rebel side. The latter also has its own arguments against such engagement: basically when they perceive it as part of a counter-insurgency scheme, whether for tactical intelligence-gathering or for strategic “softening” of the revolutionary forces or slowing the momentum of armed struggle. Political engagement (usually through a peace process), because of its strategic implications, is of a qualitatively different, higher and more difficult level than humanitarian engagement (usually involving relief arrangements for conflict-affected areas and communities at the minimum). But humanitarian and political engagements are not the only constructive engagements of NSAGs, as we shall show further below in this essay (30).

One international law professor, Marco Sassoli, notes that there is an objection to engagement of NSAGs, esp. by international actors, in that “they (the NSAGs) are somehow encouraged to continue violence.”(31) This is similar to the reservations or resentment of unarmed sectors about peace settlements as “rewarding” armed struggle. But one must weigh this against the costs of continued armed conflict, the important thing being that the settlement is fair and just to all concerned, inc. the unarmed sectors. Sassoli believes “we have to engage all armed groups. The only limitation is that such a group must be a genuine armed group engaged in a genuine armed conflict... Whether they are ‘serious” or not... will be shown by the result of the process [of engagement].”(32) If they turn out to be not serious or not genuine, then there can be disengagement. As has been expressed elsewhere, from the point of view at least of a humanitarian actor, there should be no NSAG pariahs a priori to possible engagement (33).

At this point, it is necessary to address the concern, especially of some of the more “traditionalist” human rights advocates, that engagement of NSAGs, particularly on human rights, might have the effect or worse, the intention (including manipulation by states), of deflecting the proper main focus away from states as the primary duty-bearers for upholding human rights. Constructive engagement of NSAGs recognizes that proper main focus but this does not mean that there should no longer be likewise proper, even if only secondary, attention to matter of NSAGs. This thus can be seen as somewhat like a matter of division or allocation (or even specialization) of the engagement work that must be done, both with states and with NSAGs. Historically and currently, the overwhelming focus and attention, and rightly so, especially of the human rights movement, has been on state engagement work. The big gaps in NSAG engagement work have merely been started to be filled in more recent years. Even if this work is further developed by those who see the need to give it some specialized attention, the overall balance in the foreseeable future will still be in the great favor of state engagement work, as long as ours remains a state-oriented global order.

Still, even some of those who have given specialized attention to NSAG engagement work are not dogmatic or absolute about a policy of constructive engagement “all the time.” Colombian campaigner Marino, for one, writes of certain Colombian NSAGs:
The problem is one of moral repugnance with NSAG human, ecological, social, military and political misbehavior in Colombia. I´m sure there may still be a number of heroic individuals in NSAG ranks. However, there is only evidence of group disarray and degeneration, including forceful recruitment of minors, abuse of pregnant women, ever increasing use of anti-personnel mines, links with national and international narcotics mafia, forest devastation, in-ranks massive paranoiac executions, etc. For the sake of constructive engagement, for years we gave these NSAGs at least a restrained benefit of the doubt. We all worked then hard searching, researching, convening and building up bridges aiming to stop NSAG mine use as well as obtaining child combatants and kidnap victims release. At least in Colombia, humanitarian engagement with these NSAGs has NOT worked (34).
While Marino has come to this conclusion, it is not without first exhausting the possibility. And this should be the minimum before resorting to force or military-type engagement.

Finally, the rationale for constructive engagement of NSAGs is also touched in the course of the next part’s discussion about its larger historical and global context.

III. Placing this Work in Context and in Perspective: The Bigger Picture

It would do good to first place this work of constructive engagement of NSAGs in a bigger historical and global picture (35). This refers mainly to the current context of globalization and certain historical stages post-1945. Since World War II, there has been a significant increase in the incidence of internal armed conflict and a corresponding decrease in international armed conflicts. The former are characterized by the involvement of irregular armed forces(36). In fine, there have been corresponding shifts in international engagement of NSAGs over three periods: Cold War, post-Cold War to pre-9/11, and post-9/11 (37).

During the Cold War, particularly from the late 1940s up to the 1980s, the main form of NSAGs were the classic revolutionary guerrilla groups. These groups were mostly ideological (e.g. Marxist-Leninist), class-based movements aimed at seizing national/central political power and instituting a radical social program (e.g. socialism). Other groups were secessionist movements of ethnic and/or religious minorities, especially when identity-based armed conflicts increased towards and with the end of the Cold War. This Cold War period included the heyday of national liberation movements fighting against a colonial power, an aggressor or a foreign occupier, especially in colonies (38).

The post-Cold War period – marked by the 1989 fall of the Berlin Wall and the 1991 implosion of the Soviet Union — ushered in the “new wars” of the 1980s and 1990s, civil wars prosecuted through primarily guerrilla warfare constituting “the war of a third kind” - which differs from inter-state conventional wars and the two world wars. These have seen the proliferation of many insurgent movements since then which are less ideological, less disciplined, less trained in combat, less formal, and more pragmatic, resembling “social bandits.” These groups are highly decentralized but make use of advances in lighter weapons and modern communications, and more worrisomely, may even have access to weapons of mass destruction. These new wars emerged in the context of globalization, i.e. “the intensification of global interconnectedness,” but with contrary tendencies or countervailing reactions of fragmentation, diversification and localization (39).

Indeed, it was in the 1980s that the still current context of globalization emerged. Apart from its mainly economic aspect, globalization has an important cultural aspect (because of information technology) which complements the uni-superpower status of the United States (U.S.). This cultural globalization is predominantly Americanization that impinges on the cultural and religious identities and customs of many peoples, including Asians (40). Globalization has come to mean Western, esp. U.S., hegemony and dominance in the political, economic and cultural affairs of the world. This has also resulted in growing economic and social disparities between the Global North and Global South, as well as between the elites and the masses in both hemispheres. All these forms of hegemony, dominance and disparities have in turn generated various responses of social unrest, internal armed conflict and most recently, as a phenomenon, global terrorism (41).

The post-9/11 period is a new stage of escalation of international violence by the international terrorism of mainly Islamist transnational NSAGs typified by Al-Qaeda and by the countervailing U.S.-led “global war on terror” (GWOT) which has targeted both such NSAGs and other states like Afghanistan under the Taliban regime (42). This has brought NSAGs to the attention of global leaders (43), in particular international terrorist networks which rely on highly dispersed and autonomous but somehow well-coordinated and -resourced small unit cells. But this has also brought global tightening of security at the expense of human rights and civil liberties (44). And the GWOT has come to be perceived by people in the Muslim world as a war on Islam or against Muslims (45). This U.S.-led war still continues under new U.S. President Barrack Obama though now couched as “Overseas Contingency Operations,” while he has also made it a point to reach out to the Muslim world. Whether this shift is merely semantical, or something more paradigmatic, remains to be seen, given U.S. strategic interests. Needless to say, such a paradigm shift, IF ever, would improve the climate for constructive engagement of NSAGs, even those tagged as “terrorist.”

If we may go back a bit to an earlier period, French political scientist Gerard Chaliand, certainly an expert par excellence on NSAGs, especially the classic revolutionary guerrilla groups and national liberation movements, had pointed out a contribution of theirs to history, which further places them in a longer perspective: “The rejection of colonialism often involved violence. Fixed opinions probably cannot be overthrown without a crisis. Crises fulfilled a positive function which societies embedded in the status quo appeared to fear, so pejorative had the term destabilization become, as though history had not always been a succession of stabilizations and destabilizations. Algeria was the time of crisis of the French conscience as Vietnam was that of the American conscience.” (46) He had noted in particular the contributions of the revolutionary or liberation wars of China, Vietnam and Algeria (two out of three in Asia) in writing finis to colonialism, “eras(ing) imperial certainties,” and eventually “sweep(ing) aside the faith... in the absolute and universal superiority of Western civilization,” thereby “produc(ing) a radical shift in the way in which the contemporary world is viewed.” (47)
On the other hand, as Chaliand and also American sociologist and political scientist Theda Skocpol of Harvard had noted, the metamorphosis, outcomes or full trajectories of social revolutions led by NSAGs and some consequent social revolutionary transformations in the modern world have not always been positive, even after overthrowing colonialism or dictatorial, oppressive and plundering regimes. Social revolutions have often led to new regimes that tended to be more centralized, bureaucratic and repressive, and to mobilize their masses for war against “counter-revolutionary” foreign enemies (48). But might this then not be one more rationale for the constructive engagement of NSAGs – “so that the slaves of today do not become the tyrants of tomorrow”(49) ?

It has been said, almost as a cliché already, that revolution is the “easy part,” with subsequent governance or state-building being the “hard part.” But even when revolutionary movements or NSAGs fail to seize state power, the causes or issues they espouse may have instructive value for the existing state of governance or state-building – which causes or issues, if not the NSAGs themselves, must be constructively engaged. A good sense about this was articulated well by the Philippine Human Development Report 2005:

In a profound sense, all insurgencies hold up a mirror to mainstream society and challenge it to deliver to minority populations and the deprived what it seems to provide adequately to majorities and amply to the socially privileged…. To be sure, mirrors may be distorted to a greater or to a lesser extent: ideologies and pet theories may exaggerate certain objectionable features and details and hide others. Dealing with them squarely, however, will always provide an opportunity for the current system to peer closely at itself and discover at least some of its defects (50).

Aside from the larger historical and global context, there is also the role of the state that must be factored in to put things in perspective. For example, taking the current post-9/11 period, as one Southern deglobalization NGO put it: “True, terrorism, or violence inflicted on civilians, must be strongly condemned. But the most dangerous and rampant form of terrorism is state-sponsored terrorism, the principal practitioners of which include the U.S. and Israel. Moreover, much of the smaller-scale terrorism engaged in by non-state actors are efforts, however misguided they are, to rectify historical injustices perpetuated and institutionalized by the U.S. and other great powers. While this does not justify these deeds, it nevertheless places them in perspective.”(51)

At the same time, Malaysian-Muslim activist-scholar Chandra Muzaffar believes that, while such NSAGs, esp. of the Islamist kind, may be considered as “allies of sort” in the overall struggle against Western hegemony, dominant capitalism and even secularization, their smaller-scale terrorism can also undermine the overall struggle by alienating many people, including other allies. The kind of violence they employ that involves targeting of civilians creates its own problems, including “mirroring their enemy.”(52) The fundamental question of resort to violence, even if not terrorist violence but legitimate armed struggle, of course goes to the core of the NSAG issue and will always be an engaging subject of dialogue between NSAGs and non-violence advocates like Muzaffar (53). This dialogue is qualitatively different from the usual intra-Left debates about primary and secondary forms of struggle in the context of strategy and tactics.

IV. Asia as a Cradle of NSAGs (Not Just Civilizations)

The broader context and greatest threat is the danger of a 21st century war stretching from Morocco to Mindanao, but principally based in Asia as the key conflict region, arising from the potential for protracted and new conflicts becoming linked and spiraling out of control (54). This geo-political scenario post-9/11 has been played out mainly in the central part of Asia: first Afghanistan, then Iraq, then back to Afghanistan, and now also Pakistan, not to mention Iran looming. This region has been the main theater of the GWOT, though it co-relates with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the historically volatile Middle East, which is part Asian. As if all that were not enough, you still have the Korean flashpoint in North Asia.

But the most critical arena now appears to be Afghanistan. As one insightful Southern observer has put it, “Over more than a hundred years, Afghanistan has been the hallmark of the vacuum of the State as commonly understood by both West and East. Such a powerful vacuum that it defeated the British Empire, the Soviet Bear and is now making the U.S. nervous. In Afghanistan, non-state actors have always suffered yet have always eventually emerged victorious.” Who would have believed that the Taliban could again return to power there maybe sooner rather than later after being overthrown by a U.S.-led international and local coalition in the immediate 9/11 aftermath in 2001? This prospect raises the whole question about the needed kind of strategic engagement here: a mainly military engagement (represented now by Obama’s 30,000 troop surge) or something more constructive. This will therefore have “enormous implications for engaging NSAGs in that gigantic, many times millennial part of the world,” that whole central part of Asia, now the geo-political center of contention in the world (55).

Historically, the Asian cradle of civilization has also been a cradle of notable NSAGs or armed revolutionary movements, inc. the two most successful ones in terms of mass-based armed seizure of political power: those of the Chinese Revolution under Mao Zedong and of the Vietnamese Revolution under Ho Chi Minh, which both have had immense impact and consequences – not just in China and Vietnam, not just in Asia, but globally, inc. in the U.S. These “most important revolutionary wars” showed that what is important for their success is “not primarily military, but rather political” and even moral. Interestingly, in these two cases, there is “the fairly smooth transition from (the Chinese philosophy) of Confucianism to Marxism.”(56) Writing in 1975, Chaliand would say, “In the past thirty years, only Sinized Asia (Vietnam, Korea) and its most immediate margins (Laos, Cambodia) have produced victorious armed struggles.(57)” Actually, Chaliand himself had noted also the Cuban Revolution under Fidel Castro as the least protracted successful armed struggle, but that the Algerian War of national liberation and the Guinea-Bissau war on independence under Amilcar Cabral were actually won not militarily but politically and diplomatically.

In the current conjuncture, there is South Asia centered in India – the cradle of Hindu civilization and often referred to in contemporary times as “the world’s biggest democracy,” but now also the cradle of a growing Maoist/Naxalite insurgency which is “now present in 20 [of the 29] states” there or some say control as much as “one-third of all districts” in the country. This is apart from the jihadist and separatist insurgency in Kashmir which itself is contested by India and Pakistan. The main insurgent groups at large in India are already more than a handful for the government and military there to handle: Jaish-e-Mohammed, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Hizbul Mujahidin, United Liberation Front of Assam, National Liberation Front of Tripura, Maoist Communist Center, People’s War Group, and Babbar Khalsa International. It is not only India’s economy which is fast-growing.

Two other South Asian states recently featured the extremely contrasting fates of two major NSAGs, with repercussions that are still unfolding, inc. beyond those states. In 2008, the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) [CPN(M)] came to the pinnacle of power there, no less than the Prime Ministership, through elections after a relatively un-protracted people’s war since 1996 that culminated in “people power,” deft coalition politics and the constitutional abolition of the monarchy. This has been the most successful Maoist insurgency so far since the original one in China and among a number which constitute a Maoist international movement (ironically, long no longer including the original Maoists). And just this 2009, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), once described as “the most impressive and best organized armed movement in the world” which developed its own conventional army, navy and rudimentary air force, was militarily defeated by the Sri Lankan Army after a generation of bitter and brutal ethnic armed conflict since 1983.

Southeast Asia – also a meeting (clashing?) place of civilizations — often ignored since the Vietnam War, until Mindanao in the Southern Philippines got touted as the “second front” in the GWOT, is a most interesting theater where diverse NSAGs currently operate in various stages of engagement, which we can only preliminarily, briefly and incompletely survey here:
 Philippines: a four-decade tale of two insurgencies on two fronts, led by the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), respectively, with increasingly protracted peace processes. But on the Moro front, there is also the sui generis rebel-bandit-terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG).

 Indonesia: a tsunami-induced peace settlement with the Gerekan Aceh Merdeka (GAM, Free Aceh Movement) for “self-government” which has involved a transition for the transformation of GAM into a political party. The country is also the home base of the still active Jemaah Islamiyah, supposed to be a regional jihadist terrorist network, aside from having the separatist Operasasi Papua Merdeka (OPM, Free Papua Movement) in West Papua/Irian Jaya.

 Thailand: a growing and increasingly violent unrest, if not insurgency, in Southern Thailand with a Patani militant movement that so far seems more like an irregular “network without a core” and without yet a tangible organization or structure.

 Burma/Myanmar: an anarchy of 30 or so ethnic armed groups, making it the country with the most NSAGs in Southeast Asia, some with, some without ceasefire agreements with the ruling military junta, but no serious peace process on ethnic political issues, often overshadowed by a high-profile pro-democracy movement.

 Cambodia: Though the armed conflict with the Khmer Rouge has long ended and it has become defunct, the country is grappling with a transitional justice and reconciliation process about the past “genocidal” atrocities of the Khmer Rouge.
Cambodia, as with Laos and Vietnam, were of course part of or involved in the much earlier French Indochina War and the succeeding American Vietnam War. The South Vietnamese National Liberation Front (NLF) or “Viet Cong” is arguably the most exemplary revolutionary guerrilla group in history, even “a good ethical example.” One significant past insurgency in Southeast Asia was the one led by the Communist Party of Malaya (CPM), which was more ethnic Chinese than Malay, and was first militarily defeated by the British Army, which subsequently used this as a major model of its counter-insurgency, inc. in Dhofar, Oman and in Northern Ireland.

The modern past in Southeast Asia featured still other defeated communist insurgencies in the Philippines (different from the current one), Indonesia, Thailand and Burma, aside from Malaysia. All told (inc. the victorious communist movements in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia), nine out of the ten Southeast Asian nations (the exception being Brunei) experienced communist insurgencies at one time or another since 1945 (inc. Singapore when it was still part of Malaya/Malaysia). One author speaks of “the tradition of scholarship on insurgency and peasant organization that, in studying the dynamics of communist movements in Southeast Asia, first drew attention to the internal characteristics of rebellions that account for their emergence, growth and effectiveness.” Some of those communist movements of the past have been revisited in a new light of the present for whatever useful insights for the future.

Finally, we come full circle by swinging around up to the far North of East Asia, to Japan, which initiated one global front of World War II. It has since made “atonement” for this by developing an increasingly strong orientation in the opposite direction, that of peace. Apart from its “Peace Constitution” to start with, there is a clear trend over more recent years of support by Japanese governmental agencies, private foundations and academic institutions for various peace efforts, distinct from the earlier and continuing support for the traditionally favored field of development, as several examples will show. For one, the traditional developmental intervention of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has evolved into one that now focuses on peace-building.

Some Japanese private foundations, notably the Sasakawa Peace Foundation and the Toda Institute for Global Peace and Policy Research, have an explicit peace orientation. Hiroshima University, in the peace city of Hiroshima, ground zero for the first A-bomb, has no less than two peace institutes. One of these, the Hiroshima University Partnership for Peace-building and Social Capacity (HiPeC), hosted and co-sponsored with SSN in 2008 a comparative peace workshop on ceasefire and development, with the participation of representatives of the Government of National Unity (GoNU) of Sudan, the Philippine government, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) and the MILF. This in fact was itself a constructive engagement of two Southern NSAGs, one African and one Asian.


V. Review of Related Work on Constructive Engagement of NSAGs

The theory and practice of constructively engaging NSAGs has so far been relatively well-developed in three main fields of engagement: Humanitarian, Human Rights (HR), and Peace Process. These engagements have helped to establish the case for constructive engagement of NSAGs, inc. the legitimacy of this work. We shall attempt now, within space limits, to review the state of the play in these three fields of engagement work.

HUMANITARIAN ENGAGEMENT. It has been said “that the principal rationale for engaging armed groups is ultimately a humanitarian one.” Principal but not only or not always. One might say that it is the “least common denominator” or minimum level for constructive engagement of NSAGs. But even this minimum level has its sub-levels. One is the “minimum minimum” level of humanitarian relief and assistance to vulnerable persons in need of medical care, food and water, clothing, shelter, protection and family link-ups, not necessarily in the context of an armed conflict, such as in situations of natural disasters or other emergencies. Humanitarian engagement of NSAGs here may simply be a matter of seeking their cooperation for access to victims or needy persons, including possibly a NSAG ceasefire for that purpose. A “higher level” of humanitarian engagement is respect for international humanitarian law (IHL), or the law of armed conflict. IHL explicitly applies to all parties, whether state or non-state, to an armed conflict. And so humanitarian engagement of NSAGs on IHL is part of the natural order of that international legal regime. In fine, “humanitarian” and “IHL” are not exactly the same as terms of engagement.

On both levels, i.e. humanitarian relief and IHL, it is safe to say that the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is the international organization with the most extensive experience in the humanitarian engagement of NSAGs. Much of the details of this experience has, however, not been shared outside the ICRC because of its tried-and-tested long-standing policy and practice of discrete and confidential private dialogue and quiet diplomacy, both with NSAGs and with states. It does, however, provide occasional advisory services about such engagements, aside from invited presentations and interventions of its representatives at relevant fora.

The United Nations, of course, through its various agencies like UNICEF and WHO, has its more than fair share of humanitarian engagement of NSAGs, probably more on humanitarian relief than on IHL (the UN’s favored relevant normative framework being HR). In recent years, the UN has consolidated its humanitarian engagement work through its Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). OCHA came out in January 2006 with Guidelines on Humanitarian Negotiations with Armed Groups and its partner publication, A Manual for Practitioners. It defines “humanitarian negotiations” as those undertaken by civilians engaged in managing, coordinating and providing humanitarian assistance and protection for the purposes of: (1) ensuring the provision of protection and humanitarian assistance to vulnerable populations; (2) Preserving “humanitarian space;” and (3) promoting better respect for IHL and HR. The OCHA Guidelines and Manual are very practitioner-friendly and clearly informed by actual practice.

One international NGO which has given some special attention in recent years to policy and operational studies, albeit some internal, on humanitarian engagement of NSAGs is the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue (CHD), starting with Claude Bruderlein’s May 2000 paper on “The role of non-state actors in building human security: The case of armed groups in intra-state wars.” This brings in the human security frame which is not necessarily limited to IHL and HR although their standards in situations of internal armed conflict are still at the core of the most urgently needed protection of the personal and physical security of civilians. He proposed a two-pronged strategy of “exerting pressure” on NSAGs as political entities, and “building capacity” of NSAGs as administrative organizations. CHD had earlier hosted or organized in December 1999 and February 2000 two governmental conferences on humanitarian norms and NSAG engagement, which were occasions to start discussing state perspectives on this. What about the perspectives of civil society and NSAGs? This was answered in the following month.

Global civil society’s humanitarian engagement of NSAGs, though practiced for some time already before, got a qualitative boost in March 2000 when the Non-State Actors Working Group (NSAWG) of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) organized a “Pioneering Conference on Engaging Non-State Actors in a Landmine Ban” held in Geneva. Aside from the instructive discussions involving truly international representation and expertise, part of the impact of this conference was the participation and perspectives contributed by representatives of several NSAGs from different conflict regions. The conference was thus not only talking about engaging NSAGs but in fact actually engaging some of them through their representatives. The SPLA/M commander-representative expressed the significance of this quite well:

This conference is significant for the fact that many of the NSAs for the first time in history have found themselves almost together. This is quite unique. Yesterday, as I was sitting there, to my right and to my left, there were two NSAs from one country: one Marxist and other one Islamic, and I was in the middle. I found that it was so great that they are existing in the same room, under the same roof... I believe that the message that goes beyond all that has happened or whatever has been said, is the fact that one human being has the capacity of reaching the other one. Given an atmosphere of fairness, if you give time to listen to the other, dialogue itself starts... we take this opportunity to say that the Movement, the SPLA, is ready at any moment to share opinions and experience with anybody, be it a Muslim movement, be it a Christian movement, be it a Communist movement. I think that part of fear of reaching the other in us has been broken and we are going to keep it [that way].

This March 2000 Pioneering Conference was a signal effort for global civil society’s humanitarian engagement of NSAGs. But this purposive effort on the landmines front and the NSAWG itself were first conceived by three Southern campaigners three years earlier, in February 1997 during the 4th International NGO Conference on Landmines held in Maputo, Mozambique. Some country campaigns like the Philippine Campaign to Ban Landmines (PCBL) had actually started NSAG engagement work as early as five years back in 1995. The 2000 conference marked a critical threshold level of international recognition for the legitimacy of this work. The grounded (as in on the ground) perspectives of country campaigns and other civil society forces shared and synthesized at the conference provided basis enough there for an initial “Guidelines for engaging NSAs in a landmine ban,” covering legal framework, principles of engagement, tools for engagement and integrated mine action — pre-dating by about six years the OCHA Guidelines!

By September 2003, or more than three years later, and well into the dangerous post-9/11 period, the work of engaging NSAGs in a landmine ban had advanced enough to be the occasion for a campaigners’ workshop for “Looking Back” to draw “Lessons Learned” from their collective experience of about six years in terms of: initial considerations, concerns and needs, engagement principles, approaches, tools for NSAG engagement, and tools for state engagement. It was also an occasion for “Looking Forward” in terms of enhancing strategies and approaches for moving forward based on gains in securing mine ban commitments, monitoring and verifying compliance, mine action and victim assistance, and the legal regime. The work had gone from pioneering to learning to progressing, including exploring new ground.

Towards the end of the following year, in November 2004, the NSAWG held its last workshop, in Nairobi, on “NSAs, Peace Processes, Human Security and the Anti-Landmines Campaign.” This workshop dealt with the advantages and difficulties of NSAG mine ban engagement within the context of peace processes, with human security as a relevant perspective for this purpose, and with ethical and methodological issues in engagement work. One paper presentation therein, by Richard Lloyd of Landmine Action in the UK, perhaps summed up best the historical role and contribution of the NSAWG:

[This] is where the NSA Working Group can play such an important role…. INGOs willing to persist on the ground in difficult circumstances (i.e. not just fly in and fly out) and give sustained support to national NGOs, as well as providing neutral cross conflict space for civil society and channels for communication…. I believe that without this group in the ICBL, and a small number of committed individuals within it, the importance of dealing with NSAs as the main users of mines in today’s conflicts would not have been recognized. It is important that this Group continues to help create a conducive environment for mine action in territory held by NSAs. Obviously many members of the group are from mine affected countries where NSAs are active; this Group should be a forum for exchanging experiences and sharing ideas.

An overall summing-up of about a decade of this work in the context of the ICBL has found that this work has effectively helped create the political will for more and more NSAGs to adhere to the global norm (i.e. the total ban on anti-personnel mines) of the 1997 Ottawa Treaty even as they remain outside that state-exclusive treaty regime. The NSAWG had shown in an exemplary way that civil society was eminently suited and qualified for the work of NSAG (and state) engagement.

Unfortunately, the advent of 2005, marked the eclipse of the NSAWG, due to certain factors internal and external to its mother organization ICBL, and the near-hegemonic takeover of NSAG engagement work on the landmines front ironically by a spin-off from the NSAWG, the Swiss-based organization Geneva Call, itself one of those factors both from within and outside ICBL. Geneva Call was formally launched very shortly after the March 2000 Pioneering Conference with the first signing ceremony of Geneva Call’s centerpiece instrument, the “Deed of Commitment under Geneva Call for Adherence to a Total Ban on Anti-Personnel Mines and for Cooperation in Mine Action,” then signed by two Philippine NSAGs, the MILF and RPMP/RPA-ABB, with the interested presence of the SPLM/A (eventually a subsequent signatory). The “Deed of Commitment” has since anchored Geneva Call’s rise as the premier international NGO in engaging NSAGs in a landmine ban. The author would, however, distinguish between the engagement instrument/mechanism (the “Deed of Commitment”) and the engaging organization (Geneva Call), given his personal perspective about both. We shall, however, focus for now on the former.
The “Deed of Commitment” was devised precisely because NSAGs could not adhere to the Ottawa Treaty the way states could, thus it is a parallel or complementary instrument for NSAGs. It is best appreciated as a four-fold mechanism for:
1. adherence – to humanitarian norms (starting with the Ottawa Treaty norm)
2. assistance – for compliance
3. accountability – for non-compliance
4. participation - in norm-building
Sassoli says that, “precisely... without such a commitment they [the adhering NSAGs] would simply not be bound.” This is true only while the Ottawa Treaty norm of a total ban on anti-personnel mines is not yet part of customary IHL. When it becomes a customary norm, NSAGs would be bound by it even without such a commitment.

Another international law professor, Andrew Clapham, in a landmark book on the human rights obligations of NSAs (not just NSAGs), has extensively discussed the “Deed of Commitment” (through Geneva Call) as one of two examples he highlights as practical steps taken to ensure respect for HR by NSAs in times of armed conflict. Clapham in turn highlights three aspects of this particular initiative: [with bracketed remarks by this essay’s author]
1. The Commitment as a step towards recognizing the HR obligations of NSAGs.
[in other words, not just the IHL obligations]

2. The scope of the obligations in the Commitment actually being of an even higher standard than the Ottawa Treaty in several aspects.
[e.g. the effect- or impact-oriented definition of anti-personnel mines in the Deed vis-a-vis the design-oriented definition in the Treaty]

3. Accountability and monitoring mechanisms which are three-fold: a) NSAG compliance reports, b) independent monitoring reports, and c) field verification missions.
[again, compared to only state compliance reports under the Treaty]
Clapham finally notes how States-Parties to the Ottawa Treaty and the European Union (EU) have increasingly endorsed NSAG engagement on the global norm of the Treaty as an important measure for its true universalization, if not also specifically endorsing the “Deed of Commitment” for that purpose (in the case of the EU). This “commitments regime” (as distinguished from the treaty regime) has encouraged states and inter-governmental organizations to incorporate such an approach into their own missions. In the case of the UN Mine Action Guidelines for Ceasefire and Peace Agreements, it specifically mentions the “Deed of Commitment” as an option for NSAGs. Clapham concludes resoundingly:

Whatever the legal obligation of the non-state actors under international humanitarian law, the use of ‘commitments’ provides a clear set of obligations and nascent compliance mechanisms which could develop into something at least as effective as the treaty regime for ensuring state compliance. In fact, the prospect of continual verification and monitoring through field missions means that, in terms of detecting non-compliance, the commitments regime has the potential to become even more effective than the formal treaty regime.

Whether that potential has been met under Geneva Call, the author may not be in the best position to say, coming from a view, based on his own and several colleagues’ experiences with Geneva Call, that such a commitments regime for NSAGs and the work itself of NSAG engagement is best not presided over by a Northern hegemonist NGO, a matter we shall come back to later in this essay.

HUMAN RIGHTS ENGAGEMENT. Human rights (HR) is closely related to IHL, particularly in situations of armed conflict, so HR engagement of NSAGs should come naturally. Unfortunately, it has not come as naturally as it should because of the traditional notion that HR, HR obligations and HR violations are all addressed to the state. We shall likewise come back later to the remaining debate about the applicability of HR, HR obligations and HR violations to NSAGs. Suffice it for now to refer to the seminal work of the International Council on Human Rights Policy (ICHRP) in studying HR approaches to NSAGs, in its Ends & Means report, written by David Petrasek, which by came out in September 2000. This report deftly sidestepped that debate (though discussing it too) by using the term “human rights abuses (rather than violations)” to describe conduct or practices of NSAGs that clearly infringe standards of international law, principally HR and IHL. These covered the most common abuses attributed to NSAGs: Arbitrary deprivation of the right to life; Disregard for the protection owed to civilians caught up in conflict; Interference with freedom of movement; Interference with freedom of expression, assembly and association; Torture and ill-treatment; Abuses against children; Abuses against women; and Arbitrary deprivation of liberty and due process.

Based, to start with, on case studies of ten country conflicts in Africa (5), Latin America (2), Europe (2) and Asia (1), Ends & Means has come up with a synthesis of HR engagement of NSAGs that may well be the two-part basic template for NSAG engagement in general. The first part is a framework for pre-engagement analysis of the context which pertains to three forces: the NSAG, the civil society engaging entity, and the state. In the case of the NSAG, its character is to be analyzed in such key aspects as: Aims and ideology, Leadership, Openness, Military command and control, Economy, Foreign sponsors, and Constituency. Other institutes and organizations have since improved on this analytical matrix. This is all of course in the concept of “information-for-action” of constructive engagement, as distinguished from intelligence for counter-insurgency.

Thus, the second part of the NSAG engagement template, at least for HR engagement, is a survey of possible actions of engagement, their respective merits and difficulties. These range from “hard” to “soft” actions: [with bracketed remarks by this essay’s author]

Punishment — criminal prosecution, both international and national; sanctions
[These are coercive processes which have their value but are not usually contemplated in the concept of constructive engagement.]

Naming and Shaming – fact-finding and denunciation; use of media pressure
[There is a difference though between sincere criticism and anti-NSAG propaganda. “Naming and shaming” has also been critiqued in that on its own, it does not offer an opportunity for persuasion and requires certain key conditions about the NSAG concerned in order to work or be effective. ]

Persuasion – dialogue; engaging constituencies and sources of support
[These, esp. dialogue, would be the preferred modes for constructive engagement.]

Working with NSAGs – assistance for reform; developing codes of conduct; direct substitution of services
[like “sub-contracting” these services to NGOs which can perform them better]

Still in the realm of possible actions, but on a qualitatively different level, is the area of Conflict resolution, negotiation and campaigning for peace. This actually segues into the field of peace process engagement of NSAGs. Actually, another policy study report of ICHRP in 2006, based on eight country peace process case studies, shows how peace negotiations are themselves vehicles for HR engagement of both NSAGs and states, aside from showing the influence of HR in recent peace agreements, particularly in three areas: HR protection, forcible displacement from home and land, and impunity and accountability.

Speaking of “naming and shaming,” this is of course the likewise tried-and-tested long-standing practice of the two main international HR NGOs, Amnesty International (AI) and Human Rights Watch (HRW), in addressing HR violations by states. Well, starting in the 1900s, they’ve been reporting on “human rights abuses” (AI’s preferred term) by NSAGs. AI has demanded of NSAGs respect for HR obligations outside the framework of IHL (e.g. recruitment of children as combatants, abuses of humanitarian workers, denial of freedom of expression through restrictions on journalists). HRW has reported on forced divorces and physical abuses inflicted by NSAGs on their own fighters. All these even though the debate about the applicability of HR, HR obligations and HR violations to NSAGs has not yet been definitively resolved. A critical mass of similar practical work should lead the way to eventual change on the level of HR theory.

Clapham’s second highlighted example of practical steps taken to ensure respect for HR by NSAs in times of armed conflict is that of the UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict (SRSG-CAC). In a 2005 report on this matter, the UN Secretary-General said that the SRSG-CAC has received some 60 commitments from 15 parties, inc. NSAGs like the LTTE and the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) in Sierra Leone. Under this mechanism, the SRSG-CAC’s list for “naming and shaming” parties for non-cooperation, failure to cease recruitment of children as combatants, and for committing other “abuses and violations” shows how far the UN has come to holding NSAGs accountable for HR abuses. Regarding the actual commitments entered into by the NSAGs, the UN Security Council (UNSC) has called on “all parties concerned to abide by the international obligations applicable to them on the protection of children affected by armed conflict, as well as the concrete commitments they have made to the SRSG-CAC, to the UNICEF and other UN agencies, and to cooperate fully with the UN peace-keeping missions and UN country teams, where appropriate, in the context of the cooperation framework between the UN and the concerned government, in the follow-up and implementation of these commitments.” So, here is yet another “commitments regime.”

This commitments regime is directly tied to a treaty regime, one which pertains to a HR, not an IHL, treaty that directly and expressly addresses NSAGs (not just as among “parties to an armed conflict,” as IHL usually does), in addition to states. This is the 2000 Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict where Article 4(1) provides that: “Armed groups that are distinct from the armed forces of the State should not, under any circumstances, recruit or use in hostilities persons under the age of 18 years.” Another treaty regime, that of the 1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, while not similarly directly and expressly covering NSAGs, actually does cover them. In fact, the very first case referred to and filed in the ICC was against five key leaders and commanders of a NSAG, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) of Northern Uganda, in 2004.

The global non-governmental Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers (CSC) had, however, critiqued certain aspects of the UNSC Resolution 1612 (2005), including that for the SRSG-CAC to initiate contact with parties that recruit children as combatants and engage in dialogue to establish action plans to halt such recruitment. The CSC noted that this dialogue is limited by the Resolution itself: dialogue “between UN entities and armed groups is limited to peace processes where they exist and in the context of cooperation between the UN and the concerned government.” This formulation, according to the CSC, bears an intrinsic problem: all dialogue with NSAGs is “circumscribed to a context of collaboration with the government against whom they fight.” Also, “there are many areas where peace processes have stalled… In those areas, dialogue and negotiation is being carried out by local NGOs and humanitarian agencies” but these “seem to be below the radar of the UNSC.”

We conclude for now this brief review of the state of the art, as it were, in HR engagement of NSAGs by noting two significant works in 2006. One which deserves re-mention as a landmark book is Clapham’s Human Rights Obligations of Non-State Actors. He deals with the key arguments regarding the bigger issue with the broader category of NSAs, including the question about NSAs as subjects of international law, particularly international HR law. He suggests “a wider field of vision,” than just the prism of state responsibility, “to look at a wide range of actors and a multiplicity of jurisdictions and accountability mechanisms.” He tackles the cases of HR obligations of several NSAs: the UN, the World Trade Organization (WTO), the EU, business corporations, and NSAGs. As regards the latter, “international law has moved beyond recognition of insurgency during armed conflict to a new type of recognition for human rights purposes,” which “stretch beyond both the duration of armed conflict and the laws of armed conflict.” Clapham then reviews selected UN HR treaties, regional HR bodies, and national legal orders, before concluding his comprehensive argument that existing and developing international law actually “already create human rights responsibilities for non-state actors.” It is ultimately no less than a new way of looking at HR that underpins HR engagement of NSAs/NSAGs.

The other significant work that year, in the particular traditionally HR matter of torture, is the international NGO The Redress Trust’s major policy study Not Only the State: Torture by Non-State Actors – Towards Enhanced Protection, Accountability and Effective Remedies, with its extensive and intensive discussion of factual, legal and practical aspects. This study specially acknowledged the Philippine inputs, particularly from the case of the CPP-NPA purges of the 1980s, one of the first cases worldwide where survivors of torture by NSAGs have organized themselves and have spoken out publicly about the torture they suffered. In his Foreword, then UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Prof. Manfred Nowak said: “De facto regimes and armed groups continue to commit acts amounting to torture, causing untold suffering. However, this practice has received comparatively little attention if contrasted to torture committed by state agents…. More should be done to respond to torture by non-state actors, and I hope that it will trigger a fresh debate on the subject.”

The two 2006 works we have just mentioned should have already clinched the debate in favor of the applicability of HR, HR obligations and HR violations to NSAGs on the theoretical or conceptual level, supported by evidence from practice.
PEACE PROCESS ENGAGEMENT. Much like in IHL’s context of armed conflict, the peace process “takes two to tango,” thus making NSAG engagement natural for this process. This field of engagement is therefore not surprisingly second only to IHL engagement of NSAGs in level of development, with much strides in the past two decades. To move a peace process forward, a third party must engage both parties – the government and the NSAG — sometimes separately (especially on making the initial decision to enter into such a process) and sometimes jointly (notably during actual peace talks). An internal armed conflict also involves the same two parties but, since a particular violation or series of violations of IHL might be committed by only one party (for example, only NSAGs use anti-personnel mines in the Philippines), in such cases, it is only that party which is engaged by the humanitarian actor concerned about such IHL violations. The inherent two-sided as well as political nature of the peace process makes it a more complicated engagement.

One international peace NGO, Conciliation Resources in London, has done the best studies and synthesis on the theme of “Engaging armed groups in peace processes” through the medium of its publication Accord. A key joint analysis workshop brought together 25 people inc. NSAG representatives, official and unofficial intermediaries, donor government officials and academics. Special study articles covered five thematic concerns (detailed shortly below) and about 12 particular country cases: Northern Ireland, Lebanon, Chechnya, El Salvador, Burma, Colombia, South Sudan, eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sierra Leone, the Philippines, Palestine, and Sri Lanka. Also among the resources behind this effort was the ongoing Accord in-depth series of issues on then at least 14 country peace processes, which itself shows the recent relevance of NSAG engagement in general:
Africa (5) – Liberia, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, northern Uganda, Angola
Asia (5) – Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Southern Philippines, Tajikistan, Papua New Guinea
Latin America (2) – Guatemala, Colombia
Europe (2) – Georgia-Abkhazia, Northern Ireland

It is interesting to note that, despite all such experiences, the most fundamental outcome of the international joint analysis workshop “was exposing just how little this issue is understood and how much rethinking needs to be done regarding the engagement of armed groups in peace processes.” Nevertheless, key lessons were drawn on five key identified issues: [with bracketed remarks by this essay’s author]
1. Understanding NSAGs and how they make choices.
[This includes, as alluded to under HR engagement, an improved template on general information on particular NSAGs. There is also better understanding about how NSAGs think, “the militant mindset, which needs to be appreciated as an integrated whole.” ]
2. Making the case for engagement.

[We already presented under part II on Rationale for Constructive Engagement how the Accord thematic issue summed up the arguments on why engagement, per se, is important.]

3. Putting engagement in the wider context of peace and conflict.

[This is very much part of and natural to the Southern perspective, as we shall discuss further below.]

4. Countering the asymmetries of the state system.

[We had also presented this as part of the rationale for constructive engagement, in terms of filling the gaps in the state-oriented global order.]

5. Improving the Track 1-Track 2 relationship.

[This deals with the complementary, not primary, role of civil society in a peace process which necessarily involves official parties, unlike in humanitarian and HR engagement of NSAGs where NGOs often play the primary role.]
A sense of the Accord discourse can be gleaned from this passage encouraging creative thinking about engagement options:

For state actors, armed groups or third parties, the decision of whether to engage in the context of a peace process is not a fixed or static choice. While there are several important considerations that weigh in favor of engagement as a general concept, the decision to engage is different in each situation and for each party.

How you combine several variables – type of group, purpose of engagement, substance of engagement, type of interlocutor – changes the calculus of the decision of whether to engage or not. It also raises lots of options for combining these different variables in ways that might be more appropriate for specific situations. For any actor, the decision to engage is never as simple as “should I engage or not?” The question is more accurately framed as who should engage, with what group and about what issues. While it may not be appropriate for a given intervener to engage in every situation, the diversity of engagement options raises the potential that there may always be some combination of intervener, armed group and engagement type that is appropriate.

Managing the initial decision about whether to engage, and then the finer points about how to engage “is a testament to the proposition that there is a science to the endeavor of engaging successfully with armed groups.” Perhaps more accurately, “it is still a healthy mix of art and science.” After reflecting on the many workshop discussions and study papers, Accord developed a series of recommendations relevant to NSAGs, host governments, intermediaries, civil society, policy-makers and academics (“All have a role to play”):
1. Continue the dialogue.
2. Develop new mechanisms and approaches for better understanding NSAGs.
3. Establish a joint initiative of Track 1 and Track 2 actors to develop rules of the road.
4. Develop new norms for state actors engaging NSAGs in the context of a peace process.
5. Evaluate the impact of proscriptions on peace processes.
6. Collect, organize and disseminate helpful resources for intermediaries and NSAGs engaging in political dialogue.
7. Convene a working group to discuss better coordination of humanitarian and political engagements with NSAGs.
8. Ensure engagement strategies are responsive to the needs and views expressed by the local communities affected.
Some of these recommendations are already being addressed but it is clear that even the relatively well-developed main field of peace process engagement of NSAGs still has some gaps and room for improvement. We proceed now to look more about such gaps, especially in other fields which are underdeveloped.

VI. Mind the Gaps: Underdeveloped Fields in Constructive Engagement of NSAGs

While there is definitely still room for improvement in humanitarian, human rights (HR) and peace process engagements as the main fields for constructive engagement of NSAGs, the gaps are bigger in other underdeveloped fields, esp. during a protracted situation between either military victory/defeat or peace settlement. Before proceeding to these other underdeveloped fields, we shall just note certain gaps or areas for improvement relevant to international humanitarian law (IHL) and HR (after we have already noted those for peace process engagements, just above).

INTERNATIONAL HUMANITARIAN LAW. Although this is the most developed field of NSAG engagement, Sassoli still considers this “the new frontier of IHL. If this law does not develop on that frontier, it will become slowly, but increasingly irrelevant.” He underscores particularly the need “to develop mechanisms, not only for the ideal inter-state world under the UN Charter, but also for the real world in which armed conflicts are as much fought by armed groups as by governments.” Although both Sassoli and Chapman, as we had particularly noted above, have highlighted the Geneva Call “Deed of Commitment” as a model mechanism for engaging NSAGs in a landmine ban, Petrasek suggested in late 2004 that “an expanded and more formal initiative might be worth pursuing.” Matas had noted the proposals of Peru and Colombia at the 1990 session of the UN Commission on Human Rights in Geneva for the creation of a special mechanism – i.e. special rapporteurs and working groups – and a separate Commission agenda item for the subject of “irregular armed groups.” What was approved, however, was merely for existing special rapporteurs and working groups to pay particular attention to the atrocities of NSAGs, and for this matter to be given high priority but not as a separate agenda item. We had also particularly noted above Chapman’s highlighting of the mechanism of the UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) for Children and Armed Conflict. SRSGs, special rapporteurs and working groups are all UN human rights mechanisms but they also somehow cover IHL concerns.

Sassoli also suggests that it is necessary to engage NSAGs when drafting new rules of IHL so as “to obtain a sense of ownership by them.... If we want to revise IHL in a certain area, we have to discuss with the actors, which, in the area of non-international armed conflicts, include the armed groups.” As early as 1997, another noted IHL Professor Timothy McCormack had written that: “... the fact that non-state entities are precluded from the processes of making international rules means that some of those entities do not necessarily feel bound by what has been agreed... Until the international community of states recognizes that the making of international rules can no longer be the exclusive domain of states, it is likely that non-state entities will often not feel bound by the rules that have been agreed.”

Short of that ideal discussion and participation in norm-making might be the factoring in of NSAG practice, in addition to state practice, in the formation of rules of customary IHL. But the 2005 authoritative study of the ICRC believes that NSAG practice “does not constitute State practice as such... its legal significance is unclear” and so was not factored into the determination of customary IHL rules. This is now highly debateable, as studies had already started to be done with contrary results pointing to the influence of NSAGs on the formation of such rules. But a debate on this has yet to be really carried out, much less won.

The post-9/11 phenomenon of transnational NSAGs like Al-Qaeda have posed a challenge about the adequacy of IHL itself. Since 2005, the Program on Humanitarian Policy and Conflict Research (HPCR) at Harvard University has been grappling with how transnational NSAGs are challenging traditional understandings of IHL in relation to three discrete strands: Metamorphosis of war, Limitations of the current law of war, and Strategic responses for compliance and international security. The “leading conflict of our time,” an asymmetrical war between Al-Qaeda (and allies) and the U.S.(and allies), has seen Al-Qaeda’s “aggrandizement of the principle of necessity” by “tactical instrumentalization of technological imbalance,” as
“disparity has come to imply the expansion of the panoply of means at the disposition of Al- Qaeda; not merely terrorism but the full range of kinetic force to influence its enemy.” This of course has implications in terms of such fundamental principles of IHL as limitation and proportionality. “Coming to grips with such metamorphosis of offense means acknowledging the logic in which terrorism is used as a method of warfare, according to a principle of indiscrimination whose rationale is negation of the notion of innocence of the civilian population, and imputation of collective responsibility.” Al-Qaeda regards this war or more precisely jihad “as retaliation for what can be termed ‘privatized collective responsibility,’” or the “literalization of civilian responsibility.” “Al- Qaeda estimates that the citizens of the countries with whom it is at war bear a responsibility in the policies of their governments. Such democratization of responsibility rests, it is argued, in the ability that citizens of the enemy state have to elect and dismiss the representatives which take foreign policy decisions on their behalf.” Again, this has implications for the most basic IHL principle of distinction between combatants and civilians.

HUMAN RIGHTS. There are at least two major gaps or areas for improvement relevant to HR engagement of NSAGs. First, and already mentioned above, is clinching the debate on the applicability of HR, HR obligations and HR violations to NSAGs. If clinched, this will open up many important fields for constructive engagement of NSAGs. But old paradigms, like old habits, die hard. Most recently in the Philippines, this has taken the form of a first-time Anti-Torture Bill/Law which has adopted a definition of torture limited to commission only by state agents (following the 1984 Convention Against Torture) instead of its commission being regardless of the status of the perpetrator (following the 1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court).

Second, and related to the first, would be extending HR engagement of NSAGs beyond the physical security context, to cover basic political freedoms and civil liberties, and aspects of economic, social and cultural rights. Relevantly, can there be a rights-based approach (RBA) to insurgency? For one, Ends & Means had already recommended in 2000 that:

Much more attention should be devoted to ensuring that armed groups, like governments, allow space for the exercise of basic political and civil liberties. Killings, hostage-taking and assaults on civilians must be addressed, but so too must restrictions on free speech and association. Millions of people live under the direct or indirect control of armed groups, and their freedom to speak out, to disagree or to espouse independent opinions cannot be ignored. There are legal problems, and no doubt interventions along these lines will be difficult. Nevertheless, the possibilities for a real change in behavior of are greatly enhanced when those inside the group or its constituency are in a position to raise concerns without fear.

The Philippine discourse with some NSAGs has already approached a comprehensive HR framework, though this has yet to be fully developed esp. in the implementation. For example, the 1998 Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the NDF contains a provision in Part II, Article 3: “The Parties shall uphold, protect and promote the full scope of human rights, including civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights...” This is in accordance with the HR principles of Indivisibility, Interdependence and Inter-relatedness, and Universality, which are part of the RBA. One Philippine masteral thesis gives rise to the idea that the RBA can be used not only as a tool in evaluating the socio-economic dimensions of the peace negotiations between the GRP and MILF but also as a framework for the whole peace process and a peace settlement, including other dimensions (e.g. economic and cultural) and other peace negotiations, particularly that with the NDF. The RBA has started to be used for development and for governance; why not for peace? These are still ideas, not yet put into practice. We have actually segued here from the realm of HR to the realm of peace processes.

TALKING AND NEGOTIATING WITHTERRORISTS”: IHL and HR concerns have also come to the fore in the current post-9/11 period. True terrorism is itself a violation of HR, specifically the basic right to life and the fundamental freedom from fear. At the same time, the legitimate fight against terrorism must itself respect HR. As Annan had said, “Upholding human rights is not merely compatible with a successful counter-terrorism strategy. It is an essential element of it.” Otherwise, counter-terrorism can itself actually become state terrorism. One might therefore speak of the need for a human rights approach or a rights-based approach to terrorism.
The conventional wisdom has been that one cannot talk, much less negotiate, with so-called “terrorist” groups when it comes to respect for HR and IHL, much less when it comes to peace processes for political settlements. For one, these very concepts and processes are themselves often rejected “in principle” by such groups – and so one can hardly do anything about that. Still, such conventional wisdom has begun to be challenged post-9/11. Perhaps, the first unconventional thoughts were those of peace guru John Paul Lederach just five days after 9/11, and since further developed, about creatively responding to the “challenge of terror” by “changing the game” of traditional weapons of war, including “reframing terror” from the perspective of conflict-resolution and peace-building. In addition, we might note at least six subsequent relevant works and activities of varying nature by others.

In 2003, there was Ekaterina Stepanova’s June 2003 policy paper on “Anti-terrorism and Peace-building During and After Conflict” which discusses this largely in the security, political and legal, and socio-economic contexts before concluding with a medium-term anti-terrorism strategy that has both structural and ideological approaches. And also I. William Zartman’s 2003 journal article on “Negotiating with Terrorists” which posits that this is possible, within limits, based on distinctions between “absolute” and “contingent” terrorists, and then between “revolutionary absolutes” (the only non-negotiable terrorists) and “conditional absolutes” and among barricaders, kidnappers and hijackers in the “contingent” category. [This is supposed to be followed in early 2010 by a Routledge book Talking with Terrorists edited by Guy Olivier Faure and Zartman of the Processes of International Negotiation (PIN) Program of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) in Vienna. The book covers preventive, practical/tactical and strategic/political negotiations with terrorists before concluding with lessons for both practice and theory.]

In 2005, Mohammad-Mahmoud Ould Mohamedou of the HPCR at Harvard wrote a provocatively titled op-ed piece “Time to talk to Al Qaeda?” in The Boston Globe. He said that “Though dismissed widely, the best strategy for the U.S. may well be to acknowledge and address the collective reasons in which Al Qaeda anchors its acts of force.” This refers to its “three-part case: The U.S. must end its military presence in the Middle East, its uncritical political support and military aid of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories, and its support of corrupt and coercive regimes in the Arab and Muslim world.” The idea seems to be not so much “talking the talk” but “walking the walk,” or more precisely actions and policy changes which speak louder than words.

And in that same year, journalist Phil Rees published his book Dining with Terrorists which documents his meetings and discussions with various so-called “terrorist” groups in the Middle East, South Asia, Europe and the Americas, including Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Taliban, LTTE, and the Fuerzas Armada Revolucionario de Colombia (FARC, Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) [which later became the subject of a six-part series in the Al Jazeera television network to explore the debate surrounding the meaning of the word “terrorism”]. He concluded that before the GWOT can have its “Armistice Day,” the West will have to negotiate with those it considers terrorists. His work is most interesting for its up close and personal look at various so-called “terrorists” and their perspectives about “terrorism” itself and who is a terrorist. These could very much be part of a more Southern discourse about terrorism.

In 2008, ICHRP released its second report on post-9/11 terrorism and human rights, Talking about Terrorism, which was addressed more at HR organizations and their relevance to the HR threat aspect of this subject, as distinguished from the aspect of HR violations committed by counter-terrorism. It considers NSAGs that carry out terrorist acts an important audience for HR groups. Dialogue with such NSAGs is not easy and involves many dilemmas and risks but the benefits are potentially substantial. The report gives an idea why such dialogue is not easy and may not even be viable:

Dialogue becomes even more problematic when aspects of the ideology and practice of an armed group are inimical to human rights values. Groups may advance incompatible attitudes to other religions, other communities or societies, and women’s rights, for example. Agreement on such issues is not necessarily a precondition for dialogue, but deep differences on such questions, as well as on the use of terrorist violence, may in practice preclude it.

Certain armed groups have a fundamental hostility to the assumptions that underlie human rights – an obstacle that goes beyond differences about use of violence. Examples of such organizations range from Sendero Luminoso [Shining Path] in Peru, through the Lord’s Resistance Army [LRA] in Uganda, to al-Qaeda and connected Salafi jihadi groups. In practice, dialogue with such groups is unlikely to be possible – even though attitudes and political circumstances may change over time.

But have the possibilities for such dialogue and other constructive engagement really been exhausted? I believe that we have just scratched the surface, notwithstanding the aforementioned works cited. They best show that the time for this idea of talking and negotiating with “terrorists” has indeed come, and that there may be some theory and practice about this already, but this has yet to be fully documented, synthesized, studied and developed, especially from the local level up. More so, from a Southern perspective which we shall discuss in the next major part (VII) of this essay.

One relevant effort, toward the end of 2008, was a conference on “The War on Terror: Perspectives from the Global South” sponsored by the Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Contemporary Political Violence (CSRV) at Aberystwyth University in Wales with a number of scholar-speakers from the Global South. This conference was seen as part of a continuing series of forums for encouraging scholars engaged in considering the GWOT from a Southern perspective to address an aspect much neglected in mainstream terrorism studies: the GWOT as it is seen and experienced in the Global South. There are such Southern scholars but they have generally been marginalized by the post-9/11 dominant “terrorism industry” of the academe.

BEYOND HOSTILITIES. We now come to other underdeveloped fields, esp. during a protracted situation between either military victory/defeat or peace settlement. That the three main fields of constructive engagement of NSAGs are humanitarian, HR and peace process engagements may be reflective of the fact that most of the attention, understandably too, has been on the armed hostilities – either mitigating their effects (through humanitarian and HR intervention) or ending them (through either military victory/defeat or peace settlement). Take this sense of academics David Capie and Pablo Policzer of the Armed Groups Project: “Wars come to an end when one side defeats the other militarily, or when both sides successfully negotiate a peace treaty. Yet many contemporary conflicts go on for years without a clear resolution, despite the massive use of military force or many rounds of peace negotiations. Civilians caught in the middle inevitably suffer and die. When no political or military solution is apparent, what options are available to mitigate civilian suffering?.... where neither force nor negotiations have resolved an armed conflict, it is necessary to engage armed groups in order to uphold basic humanitarian and human rights standards.” (bold face type supplied)

While correctly noting the protracted character of many armed conflicts, Capie and Policzer seem to limit the implications to the physical security of civilians, thus the need for humanitarian and HR intervention. But this is not all there is which concerns civilians and their communities who live under the direct or indirect control of NSAGs. Many protracted peace negotiations are accompanied by ceasefires, and so the usual effects of continuing armed hostilities are not a major problem. But there other concerns like democratization, development and governance in territories and over populations under NSAG control. These precisely are among the other underdeveloped fields in constructive engagement of NSAGs that we call attention to in this essay.

DEMOCRATIZATION. Most studies of democratization vis-a-vis revolutionary movements deal with the impact of the former (i.e. democratization of the national polity) on the latter, usually finding a negative impact on the political coalition prospects, and consequently success, of the NSAGs concerned. Much less attention has been given to democratization and democratic reforms that are both internal to the NSAG and external to it but within its mass base, as distinguished from the national polity. We already mentioned under human rights the matter of basic political freedoms and civil liberties like freedom of speech and association. But this also relates to the internal workings of the NSAGs themselves.

The ICHRP report Ends & Means had pointed to the openness and tolerance (or lack of it) in a NSAG as among the key factors to consider in engaging it: “The degree to which armed groups tolerate dissent is a crucial indicator of whether it is possible to influence their respect for human rights. This includes tolerance of dissent among their members and in their constituency. Intolerance of dissent can not only cause human rights abuses (such as purges) directly, but prevents action to stop other abuses because no space exists within the group or within its constituency to challenge certain policies or tactics.” But as the report earlier noted, “there are no clear international legal rules for raising issues of ‘political’ freedom with armed groups.” This is therefore one clear gap. This undeveloped field of NSAG democratization also co-relates with justice systems and governance in NSAG-controlled areas.

Closely related to democratization or democracy itself is the idea of “consent of the governed” – exercised through various forms of representative democracy (e.g. elections) and direct democracy (e.g. referenda). Do these notions and processes apply to a NSAG polity? Do they apply differently from the case of a state polity? Does a NSAG polity tend to develop its own forms of democracy (as in “people’s democracy”) or “consent of the governed”? And we need not limit ourselves in this matter to the standards of Western liberal democracy. Weinstein notes that that the variation in rebel governments is particularly in the extent to which their structures of civilian control exhibit the characteristics of democracy. He adapts political scientist Robert Dahl’s two dimensions to assess the democratic character of regimes by fitting this to the dynamics of rebel governance: power-sharing between the rebel military and the civilian population, and inclusiveness in terms of how various levels of the civilian population are empowered and whether the burdens and benefits of the governing structure are spread widely across that population. Weinstein sees rebel political institutions as “structures for constitutional representation of civilian interests in the governance of a geographic territory.”

Elections in particular are a tricky matter for NSAGs. We are concerned here not so much with NSAG participation in elections or electoral struggle through their political wings or as NSAGs-transformed-into-political parties. That goes more into the question of strategy and tactics of the struggle as well as the impact on it of the democratization of the national polity. What we are more concerned with here is the role of the NSAG armed wing or military force in the electoral playing field, whether or not its political wing or political party is playing in that field. How does that role square – positively or negatively — with the aspiration of free and fair elections? And to the extent that a NSAG is itself able to conduct its own electoral exercises for its own political structures in its controlled territory, how free and fair are these exercises? How viable are these as mechanisms for the consent of the rebel-governed?

THE GENDER QUESTION. What about the revolution in gender relations? That is the question. One relevant particular area, that of women and war, including sexual violence in armed conflict, is already getting much attention, what with UN Security Council Resolutions 1325 (2000) and 1820 (2008) on women, peace and security. The matter of sexual offenses and other impact on women of armed conflict has been addressed mainly through the frame of human rights and IHL, especially the latter by ICRC. In this matter, there is also a NSAG dimension. A recently-initiated international campaign to end sexual violence in war has in fact posed as one theme “How to work with non-state actors (e.g. NSAGs) to respect IHL norms.”

What needs to be given more attention than is usually given is mainstreaming gender when it comes to NSAGs, beyond armed conflict situations, such as within their organization and outside these but within their mass bases, especially in their areas of control. As with states or state organizations, “the mainstreaming of gender has to take place in all policy contexts… a gender-aware analysis requires the question ‘Does this policy affect women and men differently?’ to be asked of all policies, and if the answer is affirmative, to explore what can be done to prevent or correct women’s disadvantage.” Gender relations are social relations, often characterized by inequality between men and women. Policies should aim at increasing gender equality and also reducing gender tensions.

The Women Building Peace Campaign speaks of some peace settlements that result in what they call a “gendered peace” where the parties establish peace processes or new constitutions that overlook women’s needs or limit their rights. One such bitter experience was felt by women who were active in the Algerian War for national liberation, even before the rise of militant Islamist forces there further restricted women’s freedoms. The Eritrean Popular Liberation Front (EPLF) had a policy of total gender equality during the war but the advent of Eritrea’s independence from Ethiopia saw a return of traditional ways discriminatory to women in the countryside. Such retrogression or post-conflict reversal of gender equality gains during the struggle should be studied so that it can be avoided. It has not always been or need not always be that way.

In the case of the National Resistance Army (NRA) in Uganda, the minority of women who joined it as nurses, administrators and fighters were successful in persuading its political leadership under Yoweri Museveni to seriously consider the demands of women for improved rights and acceptance of women’s political representation in the post-conflict situation. Places for women were allocated on the local Resistance Councils in post-1986 Uganda. On top of this, the establishment of a Ministry for Women was a popular move. In this case, certain positive aspects developed during the struggle were carried over and sustained into the new dispensation. The best national liberation is that which includes women’s liberation.

Love and sex in a time of armed struggle will always be a matter of passionate interest. In-depth as well as comparative studies of NSAG policies and practice on this can be one starting point. Even among avowedly Marxist-Leninist NSAGs, it is interesting to note the range between the somewhat puritanical guidelines “On the Relation of Sexes” (ORS) of the CPP and the rather libertine guidelines “Love beneath the intimacy of the mosquito netting” of the FARC which encourages sexual contact between the fighters, within bounds set by unit commanders. How do these different guidelines fare when seen from the prism of women’s rights and sexuality? So, who should be learning from whom? Then, there is also the matter of NSAG handling of the Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-Transsexual (LGBT) question.

DEVELOPMENT. Most studies of development, such as economic development and human development, vis-a-vis armed conflicts involving NSAGs have focused on the generally negative impact of the latter on the former. But how about the possibilities of undertaking development work in NSAG-controlled areas? This can be taken on two levels. One level is the NSAG attitude, policy and treatment of socio-economic development efforts by external development actors, inc. NGOs, in the NSAG’s area of control or operations. Another level is the NSAG’s own socio-economic development efforts, if any, and whether for better or for worse. Does this merit engagement and on what terms?

The Philippine Human Development Report 2005 posits human development, and relatedly human security, as a framework for such an engagement. Human development is the process that widens the people’s choices, while human security is its external precondition so that the people can make those choices freely and safely. This is offered as a common ground for both sides, thus: “Human development, however, can in principle be asserted and accepted by both sides, without papering over the ideological differences in the means to promote it... It then becomes an empirical matter whether the government’s approach or that of the insurgents is more effective.... Human development and human security it presupposes are, after all, first principles the validity of which should be difficult to dispute by either side and which provide a common metric for progress that transcends opposed ideologies and social systems.” The logical follow-up question would then be: how can, for example, the metric of the human development index (HDI), which measures three basic dimensions of human development, namely, longevity, knowledge and a decent standard of living, be fairly applied to development efforts by NSAGs in their controlled territory that is, after all, also affected by the national socio-economic situation?
And what about sustainable development? Do NSAGs not also have a stake in this? For example, forest protection, how would or should NSAGs handle the relevant strategic and tactical considerations about this? On one hand, NSAGs have a tactical interest, particularly for their rural guerrilla units, in forest cover from aerial surveillance and attack, as well as a strategic interest (as do and should states) in these watersheds as necessary natural resources for economic development under their governance. On the other hand, NSAGs often have a rural mass base that sometimes slash-and-burn the forest for agricultural livelihood purposes, or sometimes deal with logging (and mining) companies that pay them “revolutionary taxes” in order to continue their extractive operations, which “taxes” however help sustain the armed struggle of the NSAGs for their strategic political objectives. How do these strategic political objectives relate to the present global problem of climate change which is the future question of global survival? Can there be strategic junctures when “the contradiction between man and man” must yield to “the contradiction between man and nature”?

GOVERNANCE. We come now to governance, or more precisely rebel governance or non-state governance. Do standards of good governance apply to this? How about state-building and non-state-building? Do such constitutional principles as sovereignty, acts of state, parens patriae, police power, taxation, eminent domain, the bill of rights, and rule of law apply to rebel governments? What laws govern the rebel polity? How are these laws established and enforced? What justice system is there?

While still a largely underdeveloped field for constructive engagement of NSAGs, rebel governance has increasingly become a point of academic interest. This October 2009, there was held no less than an academic “Conference on Rebel Governance” at Yale University, with this description:

Focusing on insurgent organizations as the unit of analysis, the primary purpose of the conference will be to examine the wide variety of political strategies that insurgents employ with the explicit purpose of governing, or choosing not to govern, civilians in contemporary conflicts....A number of related issues will also be considered including the role of external actors in shaping rebel behavior on questions of governance; governance provision by related non-state violent actors such as state-sponsored militias or gangs; and the effect of international law on the treatment of civilians by rebel groups in control of territory.... The conference seeks to bridge gaps among analyses of contemporary insurgencies in and across disciplinary boundaries. Beyond political science, we welcome scholars and researchers from any discipline that speaks to issues raised by rebel governance such as anthropology, economics, geography, history, law or sociology.

One early, if not the earliest, academic journal article on “guerrilla governments” was by the “father of rebel governance studies,” Timothy P. Wickham-Crowley, in 1987 which saw those in Latin America performing three functions or “contractual obligations” for their mostly rural peasant or indigenous constituencies, and which determined their rise or fall: (1) defense of the people from external enemies; (2) maintenance of internal administration, peace and order; and (3) contributions to the material welfare of the populace. He related this to Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky’s concept of “dual power,” which in present-day terms (e.g. of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict) would be a “two-state” scenario, albeit in overlapping respective territories.

Twenty years later, Jeremy M. Weinstein’s 2007 academic book Inside Rebellion, which is based on case studies of four rebel organizations (two in Africa and two in Latin America), devotes one chapter to “Governance” as among the distinct challenges as well as strategies of rebel groups. He sees rebel governments as performing much more functions: (1) to mobilize political support from and manage relations with civilians through political structures and institutions; (2) to enable the extraction and management of resources; (3) to exercise territorial control, that itself allows rebels to move freely, offers regular interaction with civilians, and sends a strong signal of rebel strength; (4) to make rules that define the hierarchy of decision-making and a system of taxation; and (5) to provide public goods and services like security, health, production, justice, and education.

Skocpol had earlier written that “when they [revolutionary movements] have been willing and able to deliver state-like collective goods to their constituents,” then they “can usefully be viewed as proto-state organizations.” Weinstein notes that “rebellion is sometimes an integral part of the state-building process” and suggests that “future research might also inquire into the postwar trajectory of activist organizations that achieve military victory... Insurgent state building may represent a viable alternative to external intervention in civil war, but its efficacy must be further examined.” Stathis N. Kalyvas notes “that civil wars are state-building processes.” This presumably applies to both sides of such wars, whichever eventually wins, or both sharing power in a negotiated political settlement through a peace process.

Stepanova had also earlier written about “embryonic states (state-like entities)” such as the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority (PA), in the context of state-building as a key element of peace-building. State-building “focuses more narrowly and specifically on political governance and institution-building (political authority, civil administration, and law and order).” She says that rather than applying always the same state-oriented approach to political institutions, the problem of state-building involving NSAGs “can be addressed in a more flexible way by taking into account different, often-competing, locally-driven state-building agendas, particularly as they relate to the handling of those home-grown organizations that enjoy some – even broad – popular support and are involved in terrorist activities.” She then cites the positive example of Hamas — “In performing basic social welfare functions in the Palestinian territories, it has proved to be more effective than the PA... Hamas enjoys a combination of structural flexibility and centralization, growing involvement in political activities and participation in an armed resistance, solid experience in community-based social work and extensive grassroots outreach.” A similar example would be Hizbullah. These represent different or alternative paradigms or models of state-building by NSAGs that states might also have something to learn from, with more reason therefore to learn about and engage such non-state governance.

One area for improvement of state governance is security sector reform (SSR). This has been traditionally and mainly focused on state security forces such as the military and police, the arms-bearers who are in a position to abuse this power of arms. Come to think of it, since NSAGs or “non-state security forces” are arms-bearers too, would principles and concepts of SSR not apply to them too just like with good governance?

MORAL AND ETHICAL RENEWAL. Earlier, we mentioned as one more rationale for constructive engagement of NSAGs — “so that the slaves of today do not become the tyrants of tomorrow.” To the extent that NSAGs wield, as revolutionary leader Mao Zedong once said, “political power [that] grows out of the barrel of a gun,” then this power, even if non-state and not absolute, can also corrupt, following Lord Acton’s famous adage. This is where the need for moral and ethical renewal comes in. This should be actually part of a necessary culture of governance, whether state or non-state. Democratization is not enough; it must be coupled by ethical and spiritual renewal that will give rise to “a new political style and a new civic behavior.” This kind of spirituality is not necessarily incompatible with a secular orientation, whether of states or NSAGs. This involves basically the recognition and application of spiritual and moral values such as justice, equality, freedom, dignity, compassion and love. Values must be transformed as much as society must be restructured since cultural values underlie and support societal structures. As the Malaysian activist-scholar Chandra Muzaffar puts it, “inner transformation is inextricably linked to outer transformation and vice-versa.”

Of course, those non-secularists like Muzaffar who see a nexus between religion and governance, in that governance is a major concern of almost all religions, believe that religion has something good in terms of values to offer for governance, including in meeting such challenges as war and violence, and the gap between the rich and the poor. At the same time, he believes that religion as it is understood and practiced today will have to undergo a major transformation itself by refocusing upon those values that lie at its core. But he also has an interesting historical observation that “religion as protest” [which could relate to NSAGs] seems to have been “more moral” than “religion in power” [which relates to states].

For a Colombian non-Muslim activist like Eduardo Marino, “in Muslim Africa-Asia-Europe, the NSA thing is probably essentially a religious phenomenon (exemplified by the Taliban),” and that only those who understand and properly appreciate this, will be able to effectively engage the concerned NSAGs. This entails for the engager some appreciation of what has been referred to by anthropologists as the religious experience, whether or not the engager has himself/ herself undergone such an experience. But this really goes beyond the tactical to a more strategic level of engagement that is informed by the long missing dimension of religion.

To the extent that “the personal is political” and that there is no substitute for moral and ethical leadership by example, it is incumbent upon leaders, both state and non-state, to lead exemplary personal lives aside from political lives. Ideologues in particular should practice what they preach. And if they do not, then it raises questions about something possibly wrong with the ideology or cause itself, not just the ideologue or leader. Two contrasting examples of revolutionary leaders in terms of personal lives would be the two Asian leaders Ho Chi Minh and Mao Zedong. These and other examples indicate a need for more purposive NSAG leadership studies as well as more purposive engagement of NSAG leaders, including for moral and ethical renewal, given the especially crucial role of leadership, often more than ideology, of NSAGs.

CULTURE, ARTS AND SCIENCES. The stark question that immediately arises is: can there be room for cultural development, the arts and even scientific work in the context of NSAG engagement? The sort of tentative counter-question(s) could be: shouldn’t there be? why not? In situations of armed conflict, IHL mandates the special protection of cultural property, including buildings dedicated to religion, art, science, education or charitable purposes, and historic monuments, unless they are military objectives. This should be the minimum for NSAG engagement relevant to the arts and sciences. But beyond this minimum, it is still within the realm of possibility that NSAGs might be constructively engaged on matters of the arts and sciences on at least two levels.

One level is for exposure of the NSAGs themselves and their mass base to the best that has been created by humanity, e.g. in literature, film, drama, and music, in so far as these nourish the soul (NSAG members have souls too!), which can only be something positive or constructive. Sigmund Freud’s response to Albert Einstein’s concern about the future of humankind from “the doom of war” was cultural: “… the two most important phenomena of culture are a strengthening of the intellect and an introversion of the aggressive impulse… Whatever makes for cultural development is working also against war.” Literature in particular by its nature cultivates the imaginative faculties of the intellect. Relevant to this is Lederach’s thought that transcending violence is done by the capacity to generate, mobilize and build the moral imagination: “to imagine and regenerate constructive responses and initiatives that, while rooted in the day-to-day challenges of violent settings, transcend and ultimately break the grips of those destructive patterns and cycles.”

The other level is for whatever contributions the NSAGs can make to and through the arts and sciences, with the lead of artists and scientists who may be in their ranks. Also, the culture and the arts within the NSAGs and their mass base – including “song and dance as a mode of celebration, psyching up or just as a means of relieving pressure” – may have their own contributions to indigenous mechanisms for conflict-resolution and peace-building, and “may assist in the constructive engagement of these groups.”

On the natural, environmental and pharmaceutical sciences fronts, some of the forest base areas of NSAGs may cover important ecosystems and scientifically-important flora and fauna. It is interesting to note that Mao highlighted “three kinds of social practice” as the source of correct ideas: “the struggle for production, the class struggle and scientific experiment.” He had much earlier said during the revolutionary period that “Natural science is one of man’s weapons in his fight for freedom. For the purpose of attaining freedom in society, man must use social science to understand and change society and carry out social revolution. For the purpose of attaining freedom in the world of nature, man must use natural science to understand, conquer and change nature and thus attain freedom from nature.” Based however on the experience of more recent decades, conquering and changing nature to attain freedom from it is no longer ecologically and even politically correct. For the times and the climate, they are a-changin’.

SOME QUESTIONS/DILEMMAS. The foregoing possible new, underdeveloped areas of constructive engagement of NSAGs raise some related questions or dilemmas to confront:
➢ What is the legitimacy of this work? For example, improving economic development, political governance, social services and cultural work by NSAGs in their controlled territories – would this not be de facto support for insurgencies, contrary to the requisite neutrality and impartiality for this work? From the perspective of constructive engagement, this is not a matter of support or solidarity for NSAGs but rather a concern for the welfare of the people and communities there. The appreciation and respect for this orientation will depend much on the respective policies and conduct of the engaging civil society entity, the NSAG being engaged, and of course the state which can either allow (even facilitate) or block the engagement.

➢ If ever, what would be acceptable normative frameworks for democratization, development, governance and moral-ethical renewal to be applied to such NSAGs? We have mentioned above a few possible frameworks like fundamental freedoms and civil liberties, human development and human security, sustainable development, good governance, and core religious values. This enumeration is not at all exhaustive. Precisely, constructive engagement requires the exploration of a full range of possible normative frameworks as may be appropriate for the issue and NSAG at hand. We shall deal more extensively with some of these in the next part.

➢ What special mechanisms, if any, can be developed for NSAGs in the underdeveloped fields presented above? Having such mechanisms is one of the main gaps overall. Even in the developed fields of IHL and HR, we had noted above that there is still a felt need for certain mechanisms that factor in the peculiar situation of NSAGs. Such mechanism research and development (R & D, to use corporate terms) therefore has to be a core program area for constructive engagement work.

VII. Gaps in Developing Perspectives and Approaches for this Work

Aside from wider fields (“across the board” as it were) of constructive engagement of NSAGs, just as important, if not more so, are the perspectives and approaches for this work. We deal here with two areas for deepening or further development: a Southern perspective; and complementary or alternative normative frameworks.

SOUTHERN PERSPECTIVE. SSN, of which we are part, conducts and seeks to develop the work of constructive engagement of NSAGs from a Southern perspective, which SSN describes in general terms as one from the Global South regions of internal/intra-state armed conflicts in Asia, Africa and Latin America, esp. the perspectives of civil society and affected local communities, which necessarily situate such conflicts in their respective political, economic, social, cultural, religious and ideological contexts, and also in a history of colonialism and post-colonialism. After all, most of the NSAGs and their armed conflicts are in the Global South, without forgetting that they also exist in the North where there are also regions or pockets which are Southern in a socio-economic sense. SSN therefore believes that constructively engaging them is best done from a perspective that comes from, is grounded in and is suited to the Global South.

The Global South is what used to be known popularly, especially in the 1960s and 1970s, as the generally underdeveloped Third World of Asia, Africa and Latin America. We shall no longer go into the full dimensions of the notions of the Third World and Third Worldism. Suffice it to refer to what Maxime Rodinson had pointed out in 1972: “The Third World is not a single entity. It is made up of peoples formed by a wide variety of cultures at various levels of technological, economic, and cultural development. But in the last 150 years or so, at different points in the evolution of these peoples, they have been placed in new conditions, those of a situation of humiliation and subjection to a single ruler: the American-European West, and it has suffered one and the same break.” To a certain extent, the same might be said about the Global South in the current period of globalization, but with a decisive break remaining to be seen.

The Global South is still basically the poorer nations of the South which are subject to the continuing net transfer of resources to the rich nations of the North. But one cannot leave it at that simplification, as there is more to it than that. In both these two worlds there is also the widening gap between the rich and the poor, between the economic and political elite and the ordinary citizens or the masses. The elite of the South often collaborate, though sometimes contend, with the elite of the North. The ordinary citizens of the North, not just the natural and human resources of the South, are often victims too of the greed of the elite of the North, as the recent global financial crisis has shown. In both worlds, though usually more acutely in the South, ethnic minorities and indigenous peoples within the poorer nations are often the most marginalized not only economically and politically but also socially and culturally. All told, the Global South, while having a certain common experience and situation vis-a-vis the Global North, is itself not an undifferentiated entity. This has bearing on one’s Southern perspective.

One recent globalization development to take note, according to a human rights policy analyst, is the emergence of Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRICs) as fast-growing developing economies. Three of them are in the Global South, with two in Asia. Aside from the impact of major Southern global powers on the shape of globalization itself which is not something static, a particularly relevant strategic question for the themes and arguments of this essay is the impact of such newly-emerging economic, if not politico-military, powers in the Global South on the whole “Southern perspective.”

Not every perspective or model from the South though should be upheld uncritically. For example, the ostensibly successful 2009 Sri Lanka model or approach of a military solution to the Tamil insurgency is already being bandied by some militarists in the South for replication in their own countries and as some kind of representation of a Southern perspective for conflict-resolution. In fact, it has been posed, “the problem seems to be with the Southern State unable to cope and often unwilling to serve all national, ethnic, political and religious groups under its merely nominal jurisdiction. Why do States fight them instead of engaging them? Why is it in most cases easier to fight than to talk? Is it because they cannot possibly engage them? Should and can others do it?”

For us, in general, a Southern perspective signifies a position that is supportive of the grassroots and local communities, which are often in the front lines of armed conflict or in areas of operation and control of NSAGs. It is one with the poor and marginalized people and their organizations in the South against poverty, inequality, oppressive economic and political structures and institutions and for the creation of liberating structures and institutions, demilitarization, and the promotion of a peace based on justice.

In particular, our Southern perspective considers NSAG engagement in the wider context of conflict and peace. It emanates from the need to address the root causes of the conflict as part of political dialogue and to bring in civil society voices. These could bring a stronger commitment to neglected political values which could be the foundation of a real vision for peace. More specifically, our Southern position takes on the perspectives of affected local communities which are crucial for providing insights for strategies of engagement.

This perspective is a purposive counterfoil to the hegemonic Northern, esp. Euro-American-centric, perspective in the analysis of and approaches to internal armed conflicts and NSAGs. Conscious however of avoiding the essentializing of a North-South dichotomy, our Southern perspective seeks to secure relations of equality and co-responsibility in the true spirit and relations of internationalism. This perspective necessitates strategic partners, collaborators and cooperation points in the North, especially in key international centers like Geneva, London and New York. In dealing with partners, we will consciously avoid Northern hegemonic practices in NGOs such as the exploitation of overseas country problems for their own internal fundraising purposes and co-optation and satellization of Southern partners for the sake of their prestige and growth. We will also consciously avoid such paradigms as dependence on funding from big business and governments, government-NGO uncritical collaboration and sell-out, an elitist “civil society” paradigm, and lack of transparency.

The strategic alliance with the North will be naturally induced through the orientation that will characterize our analysis and interventions. Our strong point will be in the in-depth discernment of issues, mainly such factors as character of the NSAGs, role of the state, and capacity of civil society. Cultural traditions, local customs, religious teachings, revolutionary doctrines, etc. which may be the main terms of reference for the NSAGs themselves, will be analyzed based on our rootedness in the histories, contexts and aspirations of the South.

We are inspired and can learn from the example of the Multiversity initiative, which has a base in Penang, Malaysia, of some Southern and Southern-friendly scholars, academics, activists and public intellectuals “committed to the proposition that there needs to be less conversation with the West and more conversation between peoples of the South.” Thus, also the concept of “South-South” networks. This is exemplified in the Southeast Asian Conflict Studies Network (SEACSN), coordinated from Penang: “...the idea for the network originated from within the region, and involves mainly regional actors working with each other to find peaceful solutions to the problems of Southeast Asia. The SEACSN partners recognize the contribution they can make to each other and also to the field of peace and conflict studies.”

Thus, in one SEACSN seminar on the peace processes in Aceh, Mindanao and Southern Thailand, “the program intended to draw more output and knowledge from the participants themselves. The participants themselves were the major resource persons and the organizers were tasked with facilitating the sharing of knowledge and lessons learnt [among] the participants from the three conflict areas...” For the secretariat of the SEACSN, the Research and Education for Peace (REP) unit of the Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) in Penang, “This is also reflective of the REP-USM’s vision of peacebuilding that reiterates that it is only through effective capacity building of the stakeholders that we can ensure the sustainability of peace. Peace, therefore, has to be from within the local stakeholders, from the soil of the conflict, although support may emanate from outside.” (italics mine)

Capacity refers mainly to human resources and their latent skills, of which there is much in the South, but it also refers to financial resources needed to help them achieve their best potential, resources which are lacking in the South. SEACSN and REP-USM, for their part, with some support from outside like JICA, have published much of the relevant research, thoughts and discussions of these local stakeholders, something which is important for documentation, recognition and local confidence-building – even if their papers are not of the same “high standard” of Harvard or Oxford.

Academic Imperialism

At this point, we beg the reader’s indulgence for a somewhat extended discussion of what we call “academic imperialism” and, after this, also “NGO imperialism” from the North and West, because this is the backdrop for our advocacy of a Southern perspective in our particular concern of constructively engaging NSAGs. The academic area of social sciences is the one which is the most relevant, although certainly not the only one, to NSAGs and their conflict context. Unfortunately, social sciences, even in the Global South, has come to be dominated by Western social sciences. Mohamed Idris, chairman of both Citizens International (CITIZENS) and Third World Network (TWN) in Penang, has noted that “Almost everything about the social sciences in our countries is imported from the Western countries – not just the books, but also the categories of thought, the fundamentals, the methods of analysis and research, the histories of each subject, the theories.... The unchallenged assumption is that these social sciences have been invented by ‘advanced’ industrialized societies, a direction towards which we are all apparently headed. Because these societies claim to be developed, they claim that their social sciences are ‘science,’ that these are universally valid and meant to be taught to everyone in the world.”

It was actually a native American Indian of Creek and Cherokee descent who, in a seminal essay in the early 1980s entitled “White Studies: The Intellectual Imperialism of Higher Education,” spawned a larger debate about these studies as being generated by predominantly white societies for their own academic purposes. They ultimately represent or reflect Western or Northern values, aspirations, goals, interests and needs. The Third World or Global South may have been liberated by NSAGs from colonial rule but “educational enslavement” of the “colonized mind” or the “captive mind” has remained intact, and perhaps more so in the ongoing period of globalization. Whatever the contributions of the NSAGs with their revolutionary or liberation wars of China, Vietnam and Algeria to “sweep aside the faith imbibed in school in the absolute and universal superiority of Western civilization,” has since been effectively reversed by the almost exclusive domination by Euro-American-centric ideas, theories, references, scholars and academics which/who have somehow set the standard or norm even for the institutions of higher education in the South.

It has come to the point where Southern academics must cite Western or Northern references in their papers in order to be believed, respected or given attention, sometimes even if those Western or Northern references themselves base their main findings or conclusions on sources in the South which they have in effect appropriated. As Multiversity coordinator Claude Alvares, based in Goa, India, said “... we turn to academic universities, all located in the West, at Harvard or Sussex, thousands of miles away for enlightenment, for the latest theories, to find solutions for our problems. We unashamedly conduct intellectual discourses in Delhi or Kuala Lumpur through the brains of people living in Germany or France or the USA.... and we participate on the fringes. Very often we do not even figure in their discussions, though they always dominate ours.... We have been educated to believe there is better light there. All our scientific activity is guided from there.” This essay itself would, in candor, plead guilty, to some extent, to this post-colonial syndrome. The consolation of sorts in this admission is that self-awareness of a problem is the first step in addressing it.

There is so much more to be said about this intellectual imperialism, which is also relevant to Asian public intellectuals, but we shall focus here now on an aspect particularly relevant to Southern perspectives. This is what Multiword Network co-creator Yusef J. Progler of Dubai refers to as “the institutional structure of White Studies, which has enabled higher education to normalize narrow forms of Western knowledge,” by using “a rigid compartmentalization and departmentalization of knowledge, developed in its present form in the 19th Century and further modified during the Cold War.... the best way to control thought is to make sure that no one ever sees the big picture.” Thus, Multiversity for one “wishes to encourage scholars to work towards an academic structure that is not fixated – as at present – on well-demarcated disciplines worked in separate departments, but in a more holistic way that attempts to match the holism of the real world.” (italics mine) It is this holistic approach which precisely comes quite naturally as part of a Southern perspective.

One often (not always) sees a rigid compartmentalized approach in Western academic literature on NSAGs and NSAG-led rebellions or insurgencies. For example, take the current “flavor of the month” with such literature, the latest (2006 and 2007) books of American political scientists Stathis N. Kalyvas of Yale and Jeremy M. Weinstein of Stanford, both published by Cambridge and leading lights of the recent (October 2009) Yale “Conference on Rebel Governance.” Kalyvas privileges academic micro-level studies of civil wars, especially their dynamics of violence (thus, having a “logic”), as against macro-level “master narratives” that deal with the bigger picture of the onset, duration and termination of civil wars. He emphasizes “the importance of disaggregation, at the level of both theory and empirical investigation.”

And, in the end, what does Kalyvas offer or hope for? Aside from “inspiring a research program geared toward the rigorous analysis of the microdynamics of civil wars,” the most that he hopes for is “to contribute to the effort of decreasing the violence of civil wars.” That’s fine but how about resolving the wars? In terms of potential policy implications, the closest he offers for peacebuilding is this: “Reducing violence requires as much local action as action at the center. At least in the short and medium term, tinkering with local control could be a more efficient way to achieve peace and stability than investing in mass attitudinal shift. From this perspective, the incorporation of an operational measure of control ought to become a priority for peacekeeping and peacebuilding operations. The allocation of troops and, especially, administrative resources should be based on a clear understanding of the local balance of control.” (italics mine) Peace is hereby supposed to be achieved through operational measures of control – reallocation of troops and administrative resources — at the local level, but nothing said about substantive measures of policy reforms and attitudinal changes at the societal level. This tack looks much like the kind of policy recommendation that would be behind the current counter-insurgency measures in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Weinstein privileges the resource endowments (both economic and social) that determine the viability of NSAGs and their insurgencies at the start. These endowments in turn largely determine their organizational structures (inc. membership, recruitment, control, policies and culture) which then ultimately determine their strategies. In his view, “Violence becomes the natural outcome of a path of organizational evolution rather than a strategic choice made in response to changing conditions on the ground.” But from most indications, it is actually the other way around – organizational structures following from and in support of strategies. He expressly places leadership, skill, ideology, political line and appeals on a “a backseat,” even though these factors have been considered of central importance, almost instinctively or by gut-feel, by those closely familiar with NSAGs and their rebellions, including by those actually inside (not outside looking inside) them. He acknowledges the crucial role of leadership, skill and charisma only in so far as regards how they use “the endowments they have at their disposal,” but also rather circuitously argues that these endowments “can account too for the leaders that come to the fore.”

Again, in the end, what does Weinstein prescribe? After 350 pages of otherwise rigorous discussion, he ends quite disappointingly with this: “Protecting the lives of noncombatants in civil war requires a commitment to starving rebel organizations of the resources they use to finance insurgency and forcing insurgents to confront the difficult task of building states with the consent of the governed.” (italics mine) Preaching “consent of the governed” but not practicing its consensual or dialogical spirit when it comes to approaches to rebel organizations and insurgents. Why does this (and many other American and Western academics) – “starving” and “forcing” — sound so much like counter-insurgency? In most cases, probably because it is coming from that direction or perspective.

Perhaps reflecting the Western notion of war as military science, as distinguished from the Eastern notion of the art of war, Western academic literature on NSAGs and their rebellions tend to be often characterized by much quantitative or statistical analysis or by the scenario or simulation exercises using various combinations of constants, dependent variables and independent variables, as if this were a matter of scientific experiment rather than real life life-and-death struggles. This perhaps just reflects the dominant Western rationalist, materialist and modernist outlook that puts a premium on so-called objectivity, scholarly detachment and scientific method. Ekkart Zimmermann, in his exhaustive survey (published in 1983) of the voluminous academic literature on revolutions, coups and political violence, said as part of his conclusion:

Yet a scientific creed is one thing, substantial results another. After all that has been said... it comes as no surprise that the aspirations of the researcher interested in quantitative cross-national research in the fields of political violence, crises, and revolutions remains unfulfilled. These difficulties notwithstanding, the goal of developing “universally” valid theoretical explanations which are more general and at the same time more precise than those typically found in qualitative analyses... will continue to be sought. No doubt there may be limits to a cross-national quantitative approach to these fields, but such an approach also has distinct advantages. The aim is not to substitute a badly reasoned quantitative approach for a well-reasoned qualitative one but rather to combine good reasoning with as much precision as possible... (italics mine)

This is where a Southern (or Eastern) perspective and research methodology might help. Vine Deloria, Jr. had suggested (as early as 20 years ago, in 1979), and not just on the plane of academic research but of broader human knowledge-building, that “The signposts point to a reconciliation of the two approaches to experience. Western science must reintegrate human emotions and intuitions into its interpretation of phenomena; [non-Western] peoples must confront... the effects of [Western] technology... [We must] come to an integrated conception of how our species came to be, what it has accomplished, and where it can expect to go in the millennia ahead... [Then we will come to] understand as these traditionally opposing views seek a unity that the world of historical experience is far more mysterious and eventful than previously expected... Our next immediate task is the unification of human knowledge.”

But it would seem that, even before that “next immediate task” of unification or combination, is the need for Southern academic or intellectual work to achieve true parity, restore equality and mutual respect vis-a-vis Western academic or intellectual dominance. Questions like “Can Asians think?” should no longer be an issue. They certainly can, and a better reading of history will show it. Not just think, but also feel and sense. They have known well about emotional, social and ecological (and spiritual) intelligence, long before American psychologist and science journalist Daniel Goleman’s “ground-breaking” best-selling books which present these as “new science.” Precisely, many achievements of Eastern civilization were appropriated by the West in shaping its own identity, civilization and science and then were written out of history by its historians like Herbert Spencer, Arnold Toynbee and Charles Murray, whose history books are then taught as canons in the East (and South), resulting in the latter’s own historical amnesia about Eastern accomplishment, as Pakistani scholar Ziauddin Sardar points out. Speaking of intuition, Idris notes how the mindless parroting of Western textbooks or whatever fashionable “new phrases made current in intellectual circles in Paris or Harvard,” has effectively “deprived them (young minds in the South) of the ready instincts they were born with” or Asian public intellectuals of the courage “to publicly question these assumptions, even when we have the mental equipment and sometimes even the wisdom to do so.”

Precisely, Malaysian scholar and Sociology Prof. Syed Hussein Alatas had said that there is no other way but for the South to have and develop “our own scholarship” by demonstrating it by good work “which does not bear the stamp of intellectual captivity” and “with our own categories of analysis, giving a different picture and dragging out what they (the West) try to hide. In other words, we have to offer a more complete and true picture, using values which are truly universal and truly moral.... There is no such thing as objectivity without morality. We can have objectivity, but the research cannot be without morality.” This also involves, among others, an effort “to evolve better methods of academic research than the West.” This general call to develop “our own scholarship” in the South has to start being addressed in whichever area it can be done by those in a position and with an inclination to do so. And one particular area might as well be the matter of NSAGs, their rebellions and the work of constructively engaging them in our own region – before this area of work becomes irretrievably also dominated by the West (or North), as it is starting to be.

There is indeed an ethical question about research: what would it be used for? Like will it end up being used to craft policies, strategies or “solutions” that result in the killing of innocent people, just like the scientific research for the atomic bomb eventually dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki? Is academic research for counter-insurgency use, where there is much civilian “collateral damage,” any much different from that ethically or morally? How about “the various ‘terrorism industries,’ which thrive on the existence of that which they study, to the point of not wanting to address the conditions that bring it about, which points to the ongoing complicity between Western academics and the intervention of Western states in the Third World, a stubborn legacy of 19th century colonialism”? A Northern peace researcher and adviser but with a Southern sense and sensitivity points out that “most peace research institutes are based in the North, observing and theorizing (from a safe distance) the developments in the South. Researchers get credit for writing articles and books about the suffering of others, and no one seems to challenge the ethics in this!” Moral and ethical dimensions even in academic and scientific work is perhaps less dissonant to an Eastern (or Southern) perspective that puts a premium on the spiritual or even religious, than to the Western (or Northern) perspective that puts a premium on the material or secular, reflected in the “de-sacralization of knowledge” in the Western academic tradition.

Going back to intuition, in NSAG engagement, there is a role for it, particularly “educated intuition,” says British humanitarian Terry Waite, who was an intermediary in several hostage negotiations with NSAGs in the Middle East, himself also once taken hostage: “Don’t necessarily imagine that formulas for negotiation are going to work. It’s not a bad thing to have a general idea in your mind as to the process that is possible, but try and work with intuition, an educated intuition. Don’t depend on intuition alone because alone it will sometimes lead you astray, but don’t despise it – that’s what I mean by educated intuition.” Often, correct intervention depends on common sense and a sense or (gut) feel about how a particular NSAG would think and act in a given situation, based on knowledge and understanding of its perspective as gathered from the NSAG itself, without much need for quantitative or statistical analysis or scenario or simulation exercises about that NSAG. And such sense or feel cannot be taught but can only be developed through practice and experience.

It should be clear that we are not calling for a wholesale rejection of Western social sciences and for that matter Western research and technology on NSAG engagement; we are rather calling for more balancing with and respect for Southern perspectives, so that the synthesis becomes truly universal or internationalist — “the best that has been created by humanity.” Progler said it well in his Foreword to Churchill’s White Studies: “... it is high time for humanity to recover its diversity in ways of thinking and acting, to reconstruct locally relevant and humanely intellectual traditions outside the White Studies system, to seek liberation in the rejuvenation of regional cultures and societies.” This is particularly relevant to the second area for deepening or further development of the work of constructively engaging NSAGs which is discussed further below: complementary or alternative normative frameworks.

It is good to have not only “Third World thinkers developing their own intellectual traditions” but also “maverick thinkers operating within the Western intellectual tradition,” whether these maverick thinkers are from/in the West or the South. Many of us in the South are ourselves products of Western education and exposure. But as the Palestinian American literary theorist and Palestinian rights advocate Edward W. Said well said (pun intended): “we have at our disposal the rational interpretative skills that are the legacy of humanistic education... Rather than the manufactured clash of civilizations, we need to concentrate on the slow working together of cultures that overlap, borrow from each other, and live together in far more interesting ways than any abridged or inauthentic mode of understanding can allow.”

NGO Imperialism

To a lesser extent than in the academe, imperialism or neo-colonialism has also found some expression or extension in the operations of so-called international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from the North into the Global South. We do not refer to complicity with global economic, political and military domination and intervention, though a case might be made for complicity with global cultural domination or hegemony in so far as Western superiority is projected. We refer to a certain style of work or modus operandi that, to a large extent, flows from that Western superiority complex. Nicaraguan progressive Alejandro Bendana, once ambassador of his Sandinista government but since then largely involved in non-governmental peace-related work, described well what we refer to as international NGO neo-colonialism:

There is an international dimension as the “new” politics of civil society and NGOs—spawned by the North—descend as the latest wave of the white man’s burden on the South. Swelling in the aftermath of the cold war, the NGO sector continues to expand and is spreading to the South. Many of the Northern-based forms of NGO and civil society organization are being uncritically exported to and imported by the South with mixed and as yet inconclusive results.

x x x

International NGOs sometimes establish their own forms of interventionism, sometimes parallel to those imposed by the Bretton Woods institutions. On issues of repression, corruption, and plain ineptitude, they are often right. But it is disturbing that conditionalities related to governance and human rights are being adopted by governments and multilateral institutions—with the support of large sections of the NGO community—who often bypass the people themselves. This poses two sets of problems: (1) a reinforcement of the historical North-South relationship of domination linked to economic resources, and (2) the external shaping of national and local political agendas, reflecting and reinforcing the disintegration of governance in the South, including the potential capacity of governmental institutions.

Many of the so-called international NGOs (INGOs) are not international in the true sense but largely dominated by persons from the North or West who carry its perspectives, including the afore-mentioned superiority complex that they know best what is good for the rest of the world, especially at the global level. It is they who can “think globally” and who represent or speak for “global civil society.” Because they know that the real action is at the local level, esp. in the South, they also must get a piece of the action there and thus “act locally” – through either direct or indirect intervention, just like big-power imperialism or neo-colonialism. But as one local human rights NGO network pointed out, “INGOs face capability issues at the grassroots level to undertake this task due to lack of familiarity of area specific conditions. Furthermore, they have to contend with basic constraints such as stringent security protocols for expatriate staff, language, and cultural knowledge barriers.”

To use the case method, a case in point of a Northern hegemonist NGO is Geneva Call, based on this essay author’s own and several colleagues’ experiences with and close observations of it. Though Geneva Call started with a truly international directorate composed mainly of regional directors (including the author, for Asia) based in and covering the key conflict regions of the Global South, power in the organization became centralized and consolidated in an unaccountable Genevois and Geneva-based clique which had control over funds that it excelled in raising from Geneva and other Northern sources it had more familiarity with. But it was two Southern regional directors (for Latin America and Asia) who were mainly responsible for conceptualizing and drafting the “Deed of Commitment under Geneva Call for Adherence to a Total Ban on Anti-Personnel Mines and for Cooperation in Mine Action” in 2000 (revised 2001), which has since become Geneva Call’s centerpiece instrument, anchoring its rise as currently the premier international NGO in engaging NSAGs in a landmine ban. Such a drafting role is no longer being given credit by Geneva Call. Here one sees the familiar syndrome of Northern appropriation of Southern talent and accomplishment, and then writing it out of history.

The author, assisted by the Philippine Campaign to Ban Landmines (PCBL), was also mainly responsible for getting the first two NSAG signatories (two Philippine NSAGs) to the “Deed” in 2000 and for the first field verification mission (to a Philippine NSAG) under the accountability mechanism of the “Deed” in 2002. Still another regional director (for Africa) was mainly responsible for the biggest “batch” ever of NSAG signatories – 15 Somali NSAGs – to the “Deed” later in 2002. But this did not seem good enough for the Geneva-based leadership which wanted to have more achievements to show, not only for the existing and potential funders but also for certain prestigious awards. This time it was another familiar Northern syndrome of giving a premium to quick results and much output, as against a Southern approach that valued local process readiness and relationship-building.

By 2003, this came to a head in the process of preparing an engagement with the LTTE in Sri Lanka, when the Geneva-based leadership sent a Geneva-based mission there against the advice and timing sense of both the regional director concerned (for Asia) and the local partner country campaign group (Sri Lanka Campaign to Ban Landmines). The fallout on this and related earlier and later issues, basically internal North-South policy and work style differences, had the end result of the falling out from Geneva Call of the three regional directors for Latin America, Asia and Africa in 2002-04 through organizational maneuvering and power play by the Geneva-based leadership. Since then, the set-up of having regional directors from and based in the key conflict regions of the Global South has never been restored in Geneva Call.

Instead, European and/or North American staff persons largely based in Europe are sent on “parachuting” trips to various countries in the South. They are able to use much Northern funding, including to dangle this to prospective local partners who essentially become its supporting cast or satellites. On the anti-landmines front in several countries, it has bypassed, disregarded or broken off with the local country campaign group, just to pursue operations in those countries as it sees fit, as if it knows better than the locals about local NSAG engagement. But unlike the locals, they do not have to live with the consequences in those countries of their operational decisions made in the North. Like many Northern expats, they believe that their being white makes them (look) superior to locals who will, in their estimation, always believe in their expertise or stature, helped often enough by the local colonial mentality. They sometimes even rely on government offices and the military in order to try to reach or contact local NSAGs. The important and delicate work of constructively engaging NSAGs should not be in the hands of such Northern hegemonist NGOs — which of course are not just limited to Geneva Call (but we shall no longer mention some others here).

Of course, not all international or even Northern NGOs are hegemonist or neo-colonialist in their style of work and dealings in the Global South. From my own experience through SSN and PCBL, we have found a number of such NGOs or academic institutions to have been quite fair and sensitive to Southern concerns, and these have provided us with meaningful South-North relations of equality, co-responsibility and mutual respect in the true spirit of internationalism and solidarity. To name a few: Small Arms Survey, International Council on Human Rights Policy (ICHRP) and Fondation Suisse de Deminage (FSD, Swiss Foundation for Mine Action) in Geneva; The Redress Trust (REDRESS) and Conciliation Resources in London; Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Contemporary Political Violence (CSRV), Department of International Politics, Aberystwyth University, Wales, UK; and Hiroshima University Partnership for Peacebuilding and Social Capacity (HiPeC) in the north part of Asia.

And not all Southern NGOs are necessarily non-hegemonist or neo-colonialist in their style of work. A cautionary note can indeed be made of “how NGOs (no matter if Northern or Southern) often end up replicating the power-relations and the political practices they challenge.”

There are good examples of Southern NGOs with international impact, some of them also international NGOs in their own right. Pulau Pinang (Penang Island) in Malaysia in particular has been a cradle for such model Southern NGOs of various activisms, part of what I call the “Spirit of Penang.” Nepalese journalist Kunda Dixit captured this well after some exposure there:

... When domestic activism gets a bit sensitive, NGOs in certain countries “go international”, as seems to have happened in Malaysia — Penang in particular. Penang’s cosmopolitan tradition, a long history of high-quality education and the once idyllic isolation of its rainforest-covered island, combined to give its inhabitants a unique worldview and an activist streak. Penang is a fertile breeding ground for NGOs. They’re all there: Third World Network, Friends of the Earth-Malaysia, the environmen¬tal group APPEN, the human rights group JUST World Trust, the International Babyfood Action Network, the World Alliance for Breast-feeding Action, Pesticides Action Net¬work, journals like Third World Resurgence and the progressive publishers Southbound.

Hidden behind mounds of papers, books, and reports, Martin Khor of Third World Network is a difficult man to track down even within his own office. Khor is a one-man crusade in trying to make the voice of developing countries heard over the din at the United Nations, the World Bank, APEC summits, and WTO conferences. “The people of Penang got involved in local activism early on when their island habitat was threat¬ened by development,” says Khor. “Then they found that often the roots of local problems were national, regional or even global in nature.” Khor attaches a lot of importance to networking and communications, and his group runs a syndicated feature service, two magazines on devel¬opment and economics, and an Internet site for development information. Although not strictly journalis¬tic because of their strong edito¬rial stance, they are an important source of information on the South for NGOs, activists and media. Penang’s importance has grown in the age of globalisation as countries of the South feel the brunt of free trade….

The patriarch of Penang activists is Mohammad Idris, who set up the Consumer Association of Penang (CAP) nearly half a century ago to fight for squatter rights and to save the forests of Penang Hill. Idris is a bearded man who always dresses in an Indian-style kurta shirt and likes to provoke his younger colleagues into thinking about the international ramifications of local problems. One of Idris’s protégés is Anwar Fazal, who has won several awards and has been called “the Ralph Nader of the East” for his consumer activism, especially in the international campaign against baby milk-food formula. Fazal is also critical of the development model being fol¬lowed by South-east Asia’s NICs, especially Malaysia’s own Vision 2020 campaign that aims to give Malaysians the same stan¬dard of living as Europe by the next decade. Says Fazal: “Today we are clearly at an environmental threshold. If we are not careful, we can lose control and go down paths from which there is no return or return at great expense. Vision 2020 gave us nine challenges, perhaps it is time to add the tenth challenge, where the caring of the environ¬ment becomes an essential part of the caring society.”

Fazal, when he co-founded some of the above-mentioned activist NGOs, specifically envisioned international networking from a Penang base, including as a focal point for various international initiatives and international visitors coming in solidarity and to learn, contrary to the more familiar pattern of Southerners gravitating to the big centers of the North. Not mentioned in the above-quoted passage are still three more recent Penang movements (the Sustainable Penang Initiative, the Penang Story, and the Global Ethic Project) initiated by Fazal, and also one in his nearby hometown (the Taiping Peace Initiative). Penang does have a history of complicity in planning rebellion (and supporting NSAGs of less modern times) and of its own secessionist movements. But it also has a tradition (and particular street) of harmony and peaceful coexistence among several world religions, aside from being a refuge from armed conflict.

Thus, Penang (and nearby Taiping) has also been a base for peace initiatives, both symbolic and substantive. Also not mentioned in the above-quoted passage, but which we already mentioned earlier, is the Southeast Asia Conflict Studies Network (SEACSN) anchored by the Research and Education for Peace (REP) unit of the Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) in Penang. SEACSN and REP-USM, led by Dr. Kamarulzaman Askandar, have had to resist (successfully but at the cost of lost funding) the diktat of a previous major Northern funder which wanted them in 2004 to limit the network and its work to academics, academic institutes and academic-type work, as against bringing in practitioners, NGOs and advocacy-type work, in a continuing effort to support small and unrecognized local peace-builders and to develop indigenous methods of conflict-resolution/transformation. All told, the Southern perspective has been enhanced by these various Southern models from Penang.

COMPLEMENTARY OR ALTERNATIVE NORMATIVE FRAMEWORKS. This is the second area for deepening or further development of the work of constructively engaging NSAGs. The main or usual normative frameworks for this engagement are human rights (HR), international humanitarian law (IHL) and other aspects of public international law, especially for the main fields of humanitarian, HR and peace process engagements. Sassoli even goes to the extent of erroneously saying that “the only possibility to engage them [NSAGs] is to engage them by international law and by mechanisms of international law.”

In the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian affairs (OCHA) manual on humanitarian negotiations with NSAGs, the relevant elements of international law are indicated to be IHL, international HR law, and international criminal law (esp. the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court). Likewise, American law professor and international criminal lawyer Nicholas N. Kittrie’s proposed “Bill of Rights for Just Governance and Just Resistance” applicable to both states and NSAGs basically contains “principles... distilled from the fields of human rights, humanitarian law, and international criminal law.”

Matas has argued quite eloquently for using law as a tool to engage NSAGs, made in the context of landmine ban advocacy: “Because the norms are there, we can avoid horrors and tragedies of past armed conflicts. We need only to pay attention to the experience of the past encapsulated in existing human rights and humanitarian norms. Communicating human rights and humanitarian norms to the parties in armed conflict is nothing less than communicating the wisdom of civilization accumulated from the depths of past human suffering.... There is a tendency to leave law to the lawyers. Yet, for the law to be respected, the whole community must be engaged. The law has a contribution to make to a landmine ban amongst non-state actors. The tool of law can and should be used.” (italics mine)

On the other hand, one grassroots campaigner just as eloquently counter-argued: “The international campaign and all of the previous efforts have focused on states or formal power authorities and therefore the emphasis has been on legal frameworks. Why should NSAs care about legal frameworks? What has a legal framework done for them? There has to be a difference in approach at this level.”

These and related past discussions in the context of the defunct Non-State Actor Working Group of International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) are still quite instructive. To the credit of certain resource persons from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in these discussions, they did not necessarily push the legal argument of IHL, of which ICRC is the acknowledged guardian, as likely to be a more effective approach, than the moral or human argument, to NSAGs. According to Kathleen Lawand, an ICRC Legal Adviser, “In particular, in communicating with armed Non-State Actors, the ICRC appeals first and foremost to their sense of humanity, to ‘the dictates of the public conscience,’ taking a context-based and culture-sensitive approach. In sum, the idea is not to rigidly ‘hammer’ them with the law which is counter-productive in many contexts.” It was Peter Herby, long-time Coordinator of the ICRC Mines-Arms Unit, who several years earlier had drawn attention to the role of “dictates of the public conscience” and certain “law as social construction” processes:

... In most case[s], it has been the role of “public conscience,” the mobilization of public conscience, which has in fact been the driving force behind these prohibitions – whether of chemical weapons, biological weapons, blinding laser weapons or others.

xxx
As regards the Ottawa Treaty, it is important to look at the process which produced this unique instrument. It is essential to see law, including international law, as a social construction. In my view, the law is not the reason, first of all, why states or non-state actors change their behavior. The law is a construction which reflects social and political norms which have often been created through painstaking social processes and debate....

... I would suggest that the first steps in this process – awareness, stigmatization, creation of political will – are what need to be looked at in engaging NSAs in a ban on anti-personnel mines....

.... The law and the existence of the rapidly universalizing norm contained is one element in engaging non-state actors. But it would be a mistake to rely on the law as sole or even primary reference point. Rather, we need to look at much broader social processes and long-term strategies of engagement.

Such broader social processes and long-term strategies of engagement will likely necessitate the employment of complementary or alternative (to the usual) normative frameworks. At the 2000 Pioneering Conference on “Engaging Non-State Actors in a Landmine Ban,” this essay’s author had presented, in addition to the “main frameworks” of IHL, HR and international criminal law, “other frameworks” which I would refer to now as the “3 Rs” of regional cultural traditions, religious teachings, and revolutionary doctrines. But this latter track was never really worked on since then. While the initial work on studying and using these complementary or alternative normative frameworks has been done in the context of engaging NSAGs on a landmine ban, the frameworks would also apply to other concerns. As these frameworks and their application are not too familiar to mainstream engagement work and workers, allow me to illustrate these here, as applied to the landmines issue.
Regional Cultural Traditions

“Humanitarian thought has roots in all the cultural traditions of mankind.” We can start off here with the Arabian chivalric ideal found in the Islamic heartland of the Middle East and Northern Africa. This is expressed in epics, story-telling and folktales. A sample verse from a traditional narrative told by Arab storyteller Abla Bint Malik is the following:

When the drums of war resound,
When relentless fate is to warfare bound,
Remember the rights of women and children
Thou shall not kill them,
Nor shall thou ill-treat them
And their dignity violate or threaten.

In the battlefield, when men fight,
It must be man to man and that is right.
But women and children, kept out of sight
Should not become victims of the battle’s plight.

Then, we have African, especially West African, humanitarian traditions as found in proverbs and popular aphorisms. For example, throughout Africa, the “envoy is never insulted or struck,” as he is not considered to be involved in the dispute but merely the messenger. An envoy, whatever differences exist between groups, is on the same footing as a stranger to whom full consideration is due, a concept to which many proverbs testify:

-  Everything which comes goes.
-  The stranger is like dew, if he does not leave in the morning, he leaves in the evening.
-  Your stranger is your “griot” (witchdoctor-cum-minstrel).
-  Your stranger is your god: if he does not make rain fall, he will bring you the dew.

A research mission to Africa in early 1976 at the request of the ICRC concluded:

As can be seen, many principles expressed in the Geneva Conventions are to be found in the law of war in pre-colonial Africa. It was only after the introduction of slavery and the inroads of colonialism into Africa south of the Sahara that traditional societies began to disintegrate, causing the code of honour to fall into disuse in war. However, the memory of this code of honour is kept alive in the narratives of the storytellers, and the code perhaps could be revived as a means of humanizing present-day conflicts.

Perhaps Africa will remember, now that it is reviving its own cultural values, that this sense of humanity is one of its permanent values and that it must accept the obligation not to let those values be forgotten.

Hindu culture in South Asia was subjected to legal regulation of the conduct of war. The Manu Smriti or Code of Manu, the oldest and most authoritative repository of Hindu law, contains certain principles of civilized warfare (dharma-yuddha). One of these is that treacherous weapons like barbed arrows, poisoned arrows, and points ablaze with fire shall not be employed against the enemy (VII, 90). Dealing with “treacherous weapons” is as close as it gets to landmines which were, of course, not yet in existence during that time of 200 B.C.

The oldest available writing on the strategy of war was the Chinese warrior Sun Tzu’s The Art of War in the 6th Century B.C. but it has been used as a reference up to modern times, including by Mao Zedong and more recently by corporate business strategists. It prescribed a number of humanitarian limitations on the conduct of hostilities, for example: “Lords must not raise armies out of rage; commanders must not launch battles out of fury… For, those enraged may be happy again, and those infuriated may be cheerful again, but annihilated countries may never exist again, nor may the dead ever live again.”

Mahatma Gandhi’s principled approach to nonviolence has taken root, among others, in the Tibetan nonviolent struggle not only as a tool for dealing with conflict but also as a way of life. Where “truth is our only weapon,” obviously landmines are not. Some regional cultural traditions are indeed also religious traditions.

Nonviolence is also part of the Christian tradition. “The US bishops’ pastoral letter on peace points out that it is clear that the Gospel opposes any use of violence. At the beginning the disciples of Jesus had a clear insight: it is an illusion to believe that any use of violence can be kept selective or restrictive.” The latter point has been said about anti-personnel mines. The experience which has proven it became one of the compelling reasons for a total ban and not just a restriction on them.
Religious Teachings: Islamic Beliefs

In recent times, Islamic armed/rebel groups, more than Marxist-oriented ones,
have gained prominence. Islamic law (Shari’ah) holds sway for the world’s 800 million Muslims or one-third of humanity – thus, an international law in its own right. The Islamic law of war (jihad) is “roughly in harmony” with the four Geneva Conventions of August 12, 1949, especially the Fourth Convention on protection of civilian persons in time of war.

An Imam (politico-religious leader) of the Islamic community in Geneva once showed how certain principles inspiring the humanitarian Conventions have already been accepted and expressed in the Qur’an. As a Tunisian law professor later pointed out, “In fact, nothing in the Koran or Sunnah [the way of the Prophet Muhammad] seems to be in direct contradiction to international humanitarian law.”

There is an Islamic perspective on landmines. This is how it has been presented by the Director of the Muslim community in heavily mine-affected Cambodia:

Furthermore, Islam has strictly banned killing by every means and Islam punishes those who do evil as Allah has said in the verse: “No one must take any life that the Lord does not allow,” except for when killing is permitted according to the law of Islam or is acceptable to the Lord….
Therefore, the view of Islam on landmines is that it is an evil thing that causes damage to everything. It destroys life and property as well. It also causes many to be disabled and results in much distress and tragedy. In this situation, Islam protests absolutely against the laying of mines and tries to stop people from placing any new landmines.
xxx

According to the view of Islam, the saving of people from danger, not only through demining, which can cause death to the demining team, but even through the least participation is a help to saving or protecting life. The Prophet Muhammad said that “removing a piece of stone from the path is a good action.” The Prophet Muhammad said: “Help others and then you will be helped.”

A concrete example of the application of Islam to the landmines question by an armed/rebel group was that of the Taliban, then the de facto government (Islamic Emirate) of Afghanistan. Its statement on the problem of landmines, which contains a declaration of a total ban on landmines, starts with these references:

As Allah Almighty has made Human being his representative on Earth, both his life and death are regarded with much respect in Islam. God Almighty teaches us in the Holy Qur’an: “Whosoever killeth a human being for other than man-slaughter or corruption in the earth, it shall be as if he had killed all mankind, and whoso saveth the life of one, it shall be as if he saved the life of all mankind.” (Verse 32, Surah Almaida, The Holy Qur’an).

The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) says, “The summit of Faith is Kalma-e-Toheed and the foundation is clearing the path from peril and modesty is part of the belief.”

Materials on mines from an Islamic point of view, e.g. on mine as a non-Islamic weapon, have been developed by the Afghan Campaign to Ban Landmines. More recently, Pakistani campaigners have developed material applying the Islamic code of warfare to support the ban on anti-personnel mines. Aside from Islam, there are of course other religious teachings. Some of these also take the form of regional cultural traditions (customs, values, beliefs, and practices) which speak of humanitarian norms, like the Hindu Code of Manu. Religion can no longer be ignored as a relevant dimension to consider if one is really serious about constructively engaging NSAGs that happen to be in the Islamic and other religious worlds.
Revolutionary Doctrines: Marxist-Leninist-Maoist Viewpoints

Many armed/rebel groups during their heyday were of Marxist orientation in its several variations. There is no Marxist doctrine which specifically bans landmines but the more humanist aspects of Marxism have provided a perspective for some armed revolutionary groups to reject their use. A good recent example is from the unilateral declaration of the Rebolusyonaryong Partido ng Manggagawa-Pilipinas (RPM-P, Revolutionary Workers Party-Philippines)/Revolutionary Proletarian Army-Alex Boncayao Brigade (RPA-ABB) against the use and production of landmines:
In pursuing the revolutionary struggle towards socialism, the RPM-P/RPA-ABB believes that it is the surge of revolutionary movement for and according to the masses of the working class and all the oppressed peoples that will be decisive while armed struggle and other forms of struggle are complementary, supporting forms.
We believe, therefore, that the destruction of lives and properties, as a consequence of armed conflict, is an anti-thesis to our desire for a better world. We believe that while we are fighting to achieve full human development and social progress, we must respect the lives of people and of nature – uphold and promote human rights, and protect the environment.

The use of anti-personnel mines, as a weapon for destruction, has been extremely prejudicial to the lives and safety of civilians. This is a weapon commonly utilized in battle fields both by revolutionary or rebel forces and by reactionary forces to weaken, maim or destroy each other. It is a fact that anti-personnel mines have been killing civilians, destroying properties, destroying the environment and inflicting damage to innocent civilians more than it has served its military purpose.

xxx

RPM-P/RPA-ABB believes in the necessity and correctness of humanizing the struggle between the revolutionary forces and reactionary forces. Fighting for genuine peace, social justice, political liberty, and a safe and clean environment are all in the service of the human race. Destroying the world and sacrificing innocent lives with the use of anti-personnel mines does not serve this purpose.

Aside from a clear application of a Marxist humanist perspective to the landmines question, significant in this statement is the inclusion of two concepts, human rights and environmental protection, which are not traditional Marxist concepts. This also shows or tends to show the applicability of human rights as a norm for armed/rebel groups.

Another, more recent, variant of Marxism is Maoism. Though developed in a rural countryside setting, the kind where most landmines are planted, there is likewise no specific Maoist precept on landmines. There is, of course, Mao Zedong’s injunction to “do our best to avoid unnecessary sacrifices” in the context of “serving the people.” The Maoist strategy of protracted people’s war to surround the cities from the countryside underscores the importance of the peasant mass base as the “sea” where the rebel “fish” swim. The rebels, therefore, cannot afford to alienate their own mass base with landmine accidents. Mao said “The [people’s] army in the Liberated Areas must support the [coalition] government and cherish the people.” Cherishing the people means, among others, never having to say you’re sorry for landmine devastation to their lives and land.

Ironically, it was a Maoist rebel group, the Khmer Rouge, which was the worst rebel group (and which also became the government for a few years) in terms of landmine use that have turned tilling fields into killing fields. It failed to reaffirm in practice such basic Maoist principles as we have pointed out.

The foregoing are just illustrative of the “3 Rs” — regional cultural traditions, religious teachings, and revolutionary doctrines – as complementary or alternative normative frameworks for NSAG engagement. As we said, this is an area for deepening or further development. Why? Because it is these normative frameworks that often resonate more, than international law does, with NSAGs. Flexibility in legal and normative frameworks for engaging NSAGs is the best policy given the diversity of NSAGs, armed conflicts and country situations. The bottom-line is being able to influence NSAGs and their behavior positively and constructively for the sake of the people and local communities. Frameworks serve this bottom-line, not the other way around. Such flexibility suits civil society/NGOs at the country level in engaging their respective NSAGS as well as governments.

Northern-oriented engagement is very comfortable and conversant with an international legal framework for engagement, but very uncomfortable with the use of the “3Rs” which are not familiar to the Western rationalist, materialist and modernist outlook. Southern-oriented engagement is comfortable with both, including the “3Rs,” because such sources – esp. cultural traditions and religions – are very much part of a Southern perspective. At the very least, one must understand, not necessarily believe in, the normative framework that resonates with a particular NSAG to be engaged. If the engager happens to believe in it too as part of his or her own belief system, then that should be a plus for the engagement process and prospects. For the engager who does not have it as part of his or her belief system but still uses it as a tool for engagement, this should be seen not as hypocrisy but rather as a conscious effort to connect with a particular NSAG through terms of reference that it values.

Studying and understanding the relevant normative framework for a particular NSAG engagement can also involve a comparative analysis of that framework with mainstream normative frameworks that also guide the engagement – e.g. IHL, HR, fundamental freedoms and civil liberties, human development and human security, sustainable development, good governance, and so on. It might be noted in particular that HR and international HR law are not exactly the same. The former is broader than the latter. HR encompasses international HR law (international HR treaties, customary law and jurisprudence) but it can also encompass constitutional rights (esp. the “Bill of Rights”) as well as HR that is found in the different world religions. This is particularly significant for the interface with Islam, because of the recent prominence of NSAGs with an Islamic orientation. There is already much related literature on Islam and HR, including HR in Islam. And aside of course from the Qur’an itself, there also modern Islamic HR instruments like the 1981 Universal Islamic Declaration of Human Rights and the 1990 Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam. This might actually show the universality of HR rather than cultural relativism – it’s just that HR need not always be expressed in the terms of international HR law.

Some HR advocates have of course also pointed out the limits or extreme difficulties of this engagement approach: “The difficulty lies, however, in the fact that some groups, including most jihadists, stand in opposition to human rights principles in many respects, not merely on account of their willingness to commit terrorist acts. Such groups may oppose religious freedom and non-discrimination. They may oppose women’s rights or favor cruel, inhuman or degrading punishments…. It is not merely that such groups are difficult to reach. They also have a distinctive world view that differs markedly from the assumptions that underpin human rights. A human rights dialogue could probably be conducted with a jihadist Islamist, for example, only by individuals who possessed a detailed understanding and knowledge of the Koran, even then, the way they tend to read the Koran would make such a dialogue arduous to pursue.”

Still, such an engagement approach using an Islamic normative framework would have a better chance than an approach using an international legal framework in engaging an Islamist NSAG. If we take the matter of suicide bombings, particularly by Palestinian NSAGs, this has been condemned esp. post-9/11 by HR groups like Amnesty International as a violation of basic principles of IHL, and then going on to cite and discuss particular principles and provisions. This is likely to have less resonance with such NSAGs than an approach such this of Muslim activist- scholar Muzaffar who is also strong advocate of the Palestinian cause:

Suicide, needless to say, is anathema to Islam. No human being has the right to terminate his life, however noble the purpose may be. Similarly, the deliberate targeting of civilians in a war is odious. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) had exorted his followers not to harm those who are not combatants in a battle. Children, women, the old and infirm should be spared in war. Any and every house of worship should be protected. In the course of combat, one should ensure that animal life and vegetation are not destroyed. These principles underlying the conduct of war enunciated by the Prophet were later elaborated by the first caliph, Abu-Bakr as-Siddiq.

In the light of these principles, suicide bombing in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict which is not only directed against soldiers but also civilians, is clearly in dissonance with Islamic teachings. It is a technique of war which has no antecedents in Muslim history….

x x x

Indeed, senseless, mindless violence is sometimes endowed with religious legitimacy by theologians who are not averse to distorting the fundamental principles of the faith. This is how jihad, for instance, which in the early centuries retained its original, all-embracing Quranic meaning of “striving in the path of God” has come to be equated solely with war and the battlefield. Likewise, war itself which occupied a small portion of the Prophet’s blessed life has been elevated and glorified to such a degree that it is viewed in some circles as the defining trait of a victorious civilization of yesteryear. The tendency to legitimize suicide bombing, it should now be obvious, is part and parcel of the same mindset.

It is precisely the exploration and development of this kind of complementary or alternative engagement discourse with NSAGs that needs more doing – and also theorizing. Apart from normative frameworks, broader social processes and long-term strategies of NSAG engagement, one might say that there are also complementary or alternative methodologies for such engagement. Northern approaches tend to go by the number (“de-numero” in Filipino vernacular) or by the box (“de-kahon” in Filipino vernacular) with neat successive phases and sequenced steps under each phase. Northern-led implementation often “complements”such guidelines with a style marked by one-track-mindedness, rigidity and even dogmatism, which is supposed to be “smart” (as in “specific, measurable,… and timebound”). Southern approaches tend to go more with the flow, not second-guess the process too much but let it unfold.

SEACSN’s Askandar sees network-building, and for that matter NSAG engagement, as “essentially relationship-building,” with this task best done informally, e.g. “over dinner” and “extended conversations.” In his own pre-settlement engagements with GAM leaders who had taken refuge in Penang, he observed and learned that “whether they prepared food for the meeting was a barometer” of the level of their interest in the matter/s or guest at hand. Of course, Penang is not known as the “food capital of Malaysia” for nothing. But one will not find this “food technology” in the Northern engagement manuals. As for Southern engagement manuals — which would not be surprising if they included some culinary aspects as part of a holistic approach — they precisely are what have to be written up, published and used more.


VIII. Motive Forces for Promoting and Further Developing this Work

In terms of motive forces for promoting and further developing this work of constructively engaging NSAGs, we can speak of these as “constructive forces.” One paper on humanitarian mine action and peace-building spoke of “constructive forces for peace” – referring to individuals, organizations, networks, values and norms that are key resources of peace-building. For our purposes here, the key “constructive forces” would have to come from civil society broadly, as distinguished from the state/government sector and the market/business sector. This is largely due to civil society usually being in the most need of, as well as in the best position to do, constructive engagement of NSAGs in so far as they affect the lives of people and local communities in their areas of operation and control.

It is the civilians or non-combatants of civil society who are usually caught in the crossfire of the armed conflict between the state/government armed forces and the NSAG/s concerned. It is the civilians or non-combatants of civil society who are also usually the subject of the political tug-of-war between the state/government and the NSAG/s concerned. Civil society, therefore, encompasses the local stakeholders. Thus, regarding the impetus for constructively engaging NSAGs, it can be said “that the roots must be local and must be generated from the soil of the conflict.”

As the main adversary of NSAGs, the state/government understandably cannot be expected to limit itself to or even prioritize constructive engagement of the NSAG/s concerned, where destructive or military engagement remains its main option. Even when the state/government constructively engages with the NSAG/s concerned, it would not be doing so as a neutral and impartial party. Big business is often aligned with – supporting and protected by — the government which it in fact often controls in a symbiotic relationship between wealth and power. Big business and NSAGs are often also adversarial, with NSAGs usually claiming to represent the poorer sectors as exploited by big business. A neutral and impartial intermediary role is precisely where the civil society sector can play a positive role of constructive engagement with both the state/government and the NSAG/s concerned.

The positive role of the civil society sector and its organizations, especially in difficult situations of armed conflict as well as in the corresponding peace processes, is enhanced by their special flexibility in going about their work, compared with official/state actors:

- Civil society organizations are less threatening to NSAGs and find it easier to work flexibly, unofficially and off-the-record, and have less to be concerned about in terms of conveying official/legal recognition. Lacking geopolitical interests and stakes in the conflict, they are usually more impartial, forming relationships with a wider variety of actors in the conflict, including local communities. They can talk to several parties at once without losing credibility.

- They often have access to sources of information that official actors do not, or even when talking with the same source, the source may be more open with an unofficial intermediary. They have increased access to areas inaccessible to official actors.

- They can deal directly with grassroots populations and operate without political or public scrutiny. They can more effectively build networks with other civil society representatives to focus on long-term perspectives.

- Certain calls or proposals which may affect the military balance of power are sometimes better made by or coursed through credible civil society organizations.

- Civil society organizations can also often make constructive criticisms and suggestions to the leadership of the official parties which their rank and file may have difficulty doing because of institutional/organizational culture.

One relatively recent background/study paper compared state actor and non-governmental approaches, pointing out how the latter fills a gap in the international legal regime by employing lower-key initiatives that avoid political issues like legitimization or recognition of NSAGs. Also, “small agreements” in the humanitarian field with NSAGs have the potential to contribute to the prospective bigger peace processes, as well as other and increased interaction between state actors and NSAGs in a mutual problem-solving mode.

There is actually much more to say about the roles of civil society relevant to constructively engaging NSAGs. We shall just highlight one more angle particularly relevant to Asia, as pointed out by USM’s Askandar, who is among the Asian academics who have done the most combined theoretical and practical work on civil society peace-building:

Conflict prevention encompasses all the techniques to not only prevent disruptive conflict behavior, but also entails the socialization of positive conflict management into the everyday life of society. It involves choosing the “constructive process” of conflict resolution over the “destructive process” of conflict resolution. Deutsch notes that if we want to create the conditions for a constructive process of conflict resolution, we would “... introduce into the conflict the typical effects of a cooperative process: good communication; the perception of similarity in beliefs and values; full acceptance of one another’s legitimacy; problem-centered negotiations; mutual trust and confidence; information sharing and so forth (Deutsch, 1973).” ....

Drawing from this example, we can generalize by saying that if we want to create peaceful relations between people and nations, we introduce into the relationships the typical effects of a cooperative process as described by Deutsch above. This is the strength of civil society....

There have been some good and in-depth summings-up of civil society peace-building work in the South, though perhaps more can be done and with some special attention to the NSAG engagement angle. What is needed, to guide further and broader work along this angle, is to sharpen or deepen the analysis and synthesis of the process of doing the work of civil society engagement of NSAGs, e.g. “how the necessary mutual trust for this work is generated, the role of power relationships that occur, the need for independence and disinterestedness at some stages of intervention, but for leverage (with the parties) at others – implying that different kinds of actors may be needed, and the need for resources of different kinds for different purposes.” As mentioned in Part V, this has been done to some extent, among civil society campaigners, by the defunct Non-State Actor Working Group (NSAWG) of the ICBL, albeit in the limited context of the landmines issue.

By “civil society,” we refer basically to non-governmental, non-profit organizations, networks and voluntary organizations, including interest or sectoral groups, organized at the national and local level. This can be a very wide range, even as there can be academic differences of opinion as to the specific components of civil society which we need not get into here. What is clear is that civil society is more than its organizations; it is the sphere of voluntary organizing in which civil society organizations (CSOs) function. Still, it is the CSOs like non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and people’s organizations (POs) which concern us most even if they do not constitute the totality of civil society. CSOs generally undertake any or all of three roles in society – watchdogs over the state (and we can add the NSAGs), service-providers, and advocates of alternative policies.

CSOs that are usually involved in constructively engaging NSAGs are the humanitarian and peace CSOs or NGOs. Prof. Miriam Coronel Ferrer of the University of the Philippines (UP), another Asian academic who is among those who have done the most combined practical and theoretical work on civil society peace-building, has studied peace CSOs or civil society peace organizations which have adopted a focused peace agenda – meaning they frame their campaigns, services and other activities within a peace perspective or advocacy, or at least undertake peace-related activities and consider themselves peace organizations. Peace CSOs are generally of three categories: [1] people’s organizations (POs) or grassroots organizations (GROs) at the sectoral or community levels, also known as community-based organizations (CBOs); [2] non-governmental organizations (NGOs), institutions and programs that are actively involved in the peace process as a response to continuing armed conflicts, including grassroots support organizations (GRSOs); and [3] peace coalitions and networks at the country or sub-country level.

Focused peace CSOs are those which often use the catchword “peace” to describe and distinguish themselves and their agenda which usually has to do with armed conflict-resolution. Most focused peace CSOs come from the second and third categories of peace CSOs, and are the ones most relevant to the concerns of this paper. Secondary peace CSOs are those whose primary identification is set in another frame (e.g. human rights, women’s rights, other sectoral concerns, democratization, development, alternative politics, local governance, and so on) but nonetheless their particular advocacies can be seen as interconnected to the quest for peace in a broader sense (one might cite the example of the Nobel Peace Prize being awarded for environmental work).

One can also talk about a peace movement, a social movement in its own right where there is an array of different organizations, networks, individuals and events striving towards the same goals. This gives the idea of a broader movement for social change (than does the narrower term “NGO”) and emphasizes the agency of people. In the case of the Philippines and the necessary constituency-building for the Mindanao Peace Process there, then UNDP Senior Regional Governance Adviser for Asia, Dr. Paul Oquist of Nicaragua, spoke of the need for “a broad-based alliance for peace, human rights, and democracy in Mindanao,” “a social and political movement based on a broad-based consensus that viable and sustainable peace can be achieved in Mindanao,” “a national movement that provides the social base and political support necessary to construct peace in the short, medium, and long-terms,” and “a vigorous civil society presence in the form of a peace movement that articulates the consolidation of various civil citizens’ peace initiatives.” The more headway that this broader peace movement is able to make, the better the chances there will be for promoting and fully developing the more specialized work of constructively engaging NSAGs. This specialized work would benefit from more purposive sharing and synthesis of relevant experiences coming from various individuals, organizations, networks, movements and alliances in various fields, areas or issues of engagement.

Under one broad operational definition of civil society, it encompasses not only NGOs and POs but also cooperatives, business, academe, professional associations, civic clubs, religious institutions and groups, media, social and political movements and parties, and basic communities (inc. families and clans). POs are the closest to basic or local communities. We already mentioned earlier that our Southern position takes on the perspectives of affected local communities which are crucial for providing insights for strategies of engagement. But aside from their perspectives, just as crucial, if not more so, is their ownership or stakeholdership of the NSAG engagement effort at their local level – indeed, the level for “act(ing) locally.” Ultimately, the engagement is best when it is of, by, for, and with such affected local communities. Genuine engagement efforts at that level cannot be imported from outside, much less from abroad. Any external support, whether from national or international NGOs, must be empowering rather than disempowering to the local communities or POs.

In the aforesaid broad operational definition of civil society, NSAGs would actually come under social and political movements and parties, and therefore are part of civil society. “They also operate within the realm of civil society through their leaders, organizers and front organizations.” In this way, a NSAG is “not an institution in itself all the time” but, through its “disparate” components, is also “part of society.” This has its implications for their constructive engagement such as through informal or indirect modes, given the intra-civil society scenario.

At this point, we shall devote some particular attention to the academe and academics and their possible roles in the work of constructively engaging NSAGs. The main possible roles of the academe vis-à-vis this work would still derive from its traditional roles of teaching and research – one might refer to these as indirect forms of engagement. Perhaps the closest area of studies to NSAG engagement would be something like “conflict and peace studies” (if not yet “NSAG studies”) which can be multidisciplinary or interdisciplinary. On this level alone, however, a Malaysian academic, Prof. Abdul Rahman Embong, Principal Fellow of the Institute of Malaysian and International Studies (IKMAS) of the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), has pointed out one deleterious effect of market-driven globalization’s capture of the universities that has to be dealt with, apart from or as another form of the academic imperialism we discussed earlier:

But the space for the university to play its civilizational role creatively, including the space for building a culture of peace and peace advocacy through the dissemination of the necessary knowledge and expertise, as well as through new research, has become much smaller today, not only because of the impact of external forces, but also because of the university’s own doing. The eclipse of traditional “soft” disciplines such as anthropology and sociology, history, and other humanities, in which these issues used to be debated, implies that less space and time are now being devoted to peace-related studies in the university. Even if it is given, it is meant to complement the “hard” disciplines, i.e. those that are market-driven.

Embong sees a particular need for theoretical work on questions of war and peace to which the university can make a contribution: “To my mind, the task of theorizing peace, terror and violence, and of humanism, should be high on the university agenda today to combat the culture of war and violence, and promote a culture of peace and harmony. A revisit of the conventional theories developed in different contexts and circumstances is highly necessary.” Finally, he poses a possible direct engagement role for the academe and academics vis-à-vis the holders of power, the arms-bearers, both state and non-state:

Looking at the world situation today, the perpetrators of war and massive violence are those holding power and the means to impose their power – viz., those who occupy the various command posts in the state power structure, especially in the most powerful nation of the world. They are not ordinary citizens. At the other end of the spectrum, the perpetrators also consist of leaders and followers of certain movements who – in the name of justice for the victims – rise up to oppose such power. Both these sets of actors – state and non-state – should be the direct target groups for such programmes to promote a culture of peace. The task of the university is to be aware of this, and to say so publicly. The task of scholars – as an intellectual and moral community – is to expose this; they should have the courage to speak up for the truth and stand up in the face of power, as the conscience of society. Otherwise, all the talk about building a culture of peace, but not exposing the violators of peace, becomes a mere academic exercise.

Unfortunately, on the balance, it seems that there are more academics who are into mere academic exercise. I don’t know how to put it but there’s something about academics and the academic mode. There is an academic tendency of much problem analysis (“knowing the world”) but not so much on solutions or action recommendations (“changing the world”), aside from “further research.” There is the tendency to accentuate publication (“publish or perish”) in academic journal and books, with the longish cycle that this usually takes. As one American academic himself put it, “Part of the problem is that it takes a while for academics to turn their stuff around.” And by the time that happens, the stuff has often become stale or, to use legal parlance, moot and academic – useless for practical purposes.

Yet, in the meantime, their “works in progress,” drafts or unpublished manuscripts are treated secretively and are explicitly marked “not for citation or quotation without permission (but comments are encouraged),” even when these have already been presented publicly in academic conferences. Eventual publication by a reputable academic publisher and having the last say in the critical review of related literature seems often more important than the dissemination of knowledge to the broader community outside the academe which might already make practical use of that knowledge. Some academic careers seem to be made out of a “series of responses and clever rejoinders and replies.” One of many examples would be Harvard’s Theda Skocpol, as reflected in her 1994 Cambridge book Social revolutions in the modern world, particularly its “vigorous defense” of her state-centered, structural and non-voluntarist macroscopic comparative-historical analysis of sets of social revolutions and its “looking forward” ending, after 334 pages, with “frontiers for further research.”

We sound anti-theory but we are not. Rather, for the work of constructively engaging NSAGs, we seek theories that are closer to practice, both in their basis and in their uses. “Certainly, we can analyze these ideas and drown them in further analysis, but in the end that is not what the ideas are intended for.” Ideas should help guide practical action that helps change the world for the better. Of course, what is “for the better” often depends on one’s standpoint or perspective. If we take the case of American academics, “most of the stuff at [the US Council of Foreign Relations and policy-related think tanks] will have been written by academics.” They will see this of course as serving their country, others will see it as serving US imperialism. Hopefully, academics can still choose what purpose their academic work serves, because the worst thing is either not being able to control this or not even knowing that one is being used for a less than noble purpose.

Still speaking of American academics, there is also the different breed of Native American Indian academics or, more precisely, activist-scholars like Ward Churchill, who “were not writing only as academics, they were also writing as activists…. And so, like activists, although they can be intellectually grounded, the main reason for putting forth the writing is a call to action. It is not meant as an exercise in polite conversation between academics, but as a call to action, to do something. And so that is why it appears irreverent, too, because there is no need to join the polite parlor games that most academics play to maintain their status. It identifies the problem, succinctly and irreverently, as White Studies.”

One Malaysian academic, nay activist-scholar, Francis Loh Kok Wah, a Professor of Politics at USM and also Secretary of the Penang-based Malaysian NGO Aliran Kesedaran Negara (Aliran), has this self-aware description which actually might or should be that of an Asian public intellectual: “… I have been able to straddle this divide between academia and the public domain because of my conviction that an intellectual in a developing society like Malaysia must always be sensitive to current issues, be prepared to analyze them, and be critical of those in power whenever necessary. Indeed, I believe that this is a responsibility of the intellectual to his/her society.”

A joint initiative of the International House of Japan and the Japan Foundation called the Asia Leadership Fellow Program (ALFP) seeks to address various regional and global concerns from the perspectives of civil society by creating a “Forum of Public Intellectuals,” in which the latter are defined or described as those who:
• have deep roots in civil society
• play a leading role in initiating solidarity among concerned people
• are not confined to one discipline or field of specialty
• go beyond theory and actively tackle various social issues
• articulate a critical voice for the cause of common public good and minorities
• not only reflect but are willing to reach out and motivate people to think of alternative solutions to problems vis-a-vis the status quo
• value the process of listening to other viewpoints and as a result nurture mutual understanding and trust among those who differ in many ways

Activist-scholars or academics-cum-advocates/practitioners can be very helpful when they can work closely with NGOs, practitioners and field workers who lead in the practical work of constructively engaging NSAGs. More precisely, they can well enhance each other’s respective practical and theoretical work. At this point, we can take a look at the somewhat different but relevant example of French political scientist and author Gerard Chaliand whose work on NSAGs we have cited much above. When he wrote and published his classic Revolution in the Third World, he was teaching at the French Ecole Nationale d’Administration (ENA) and had been a visiting professor at Harvard, Berkeley and UCLA, and the Universities of Manchester and Sussex in England, a hard act to follow: (writing in 1988)

Over the last quarter of a century, I have been privileged to be present as an observer in over fifty countries in Africa, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and Latin America. I have spent a dozen years in the Third World including over eighteen months in guerrilla zones or war zones on the three continents….
x x x
An independent participant-observer, I devoted a considerable portion of my work as a political scientist to national liberation movements. I worked outside any institution, without any financial help either from the state (where French researchers seek funding) or from foundations (where American researchers seek theirs), and I was several times invited by one liberation movement or another to observe how they lived….

… Unlike other Westerners, French, British, or American, I am not an expert on counter-insurrection but on insurrection. I have always experienced guerrilla warfare not from the side of the forces of law and order but from the side of those who are fighting against the state and seeking, usually, to replace it… Like all those who have become theorists of guerrilla warfare – the most widespread form of warfare used in the last forty years – I did not study the technique at school. Herman Merville once wrote: “The sea has been my Harvard and my Yale.” The ground has been my university.

So, he too learned it “from the soil of the conflict,” notwithstanding his Western origins, and he has understood it much better than many of the more well-acclaimed Western academic experts on NSAGs and their rebellions.

Regional conflict studies and humanitarian, human rights, peace and human development networks are also motive forces or key arenas for bringing together people from different fields of work and study for possible partnerships for engagement work. International(ist) friends of Southern initiatives for constructive engagement of NSAGs, including international NGOs, institutes and foundations, and international organizations and inter-governmental organizations, especially the UN, can play positive supportive roles. We end this part with an account of the way it should not be done by external organizations and donors, based on experience from Southeast Asia:

In many cases external organizations have tended to choose big NGOs as their local partners without realizing that there are other smaller and “localized” ones that can do a better and more effective job….

Other problems from the experience of Aceh and Mindanao include excessive meddling on the part of external donors who come in with their high expectations and a massive bureaucracy. For example, there have been numerous complaints about donors wanting to set the agenda and demanding organizational changes before fund(ing) is released, as well as the common ones of having to waste their time writing reports after endless reports to satisfy the donors. Local partners are also always wary of the intention of donors and external partners. For example, they have complained that at times they feel like they are being used by these partners, either as a source of information, or for information gathering, or to test out new strategies before they are applied or implemented on the ground.

In fine, when looking for motive forces, we must look not just at the forces but more at the motives.

IX. Constructively Engaging States for the Non-Governmental Work of Constructively Engaging NSAGs

This might be referred to as the “state dimension” of NSAG engagement – or engaging states in order to engage NSAGs. For that purpose, state engagement sometimes can and should be avoided, sometimes it cannot and should not be avoided. Perhaps the most important “state dimension” is political and moral support for the non-governmental work of constructively engaging NSAGs. In the anti-landmines front, meetings or groupings of states have issued supportive declarations or resolutions calling for or supporting NSAG commitments or engagement in general and subsequently non-governmental work along this line. For example, the “Bangkok Declaration” of the Fifth Meeting of the States Parties to the Ottawa Treaty carried this paragraph 12, the three sentences of which show a progressive development of that support:

12 . We reaffirm that progress to free the world from anti-personnel mines will be enhanced if non-State actors embrace the international norm established by this Convention. We urge all non-State actors to cease and renounce the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of anti-personnel mines according to the principles and norms of international humanitarian law, and to allow mine action to take place. We welcome the efforts of non-governmental organizations, the International Committee of the Red Cross and the United Nations in engaging non-state actors on a ban on anti-personnel mines and express our appreciation for the work of these organizations and as well as our desire that individual States Parties that are in a position to do so facilitate this work.

The first sentence expresses a wish. The second sentence proactively and directly addresses, and therefore actually engages, NSAGs. The third sentence is a recognition of the efficacy of non-governmental as well as inter-governmental efforts in NSAG engagement, and encourages states to support such work. “States can support NSA(G) engagement work by recognizing the need for and legitimacy of such efforts, providing facilitation and other support to allow ground-level as well as regional and international initiatives in this line of work to flourish. However, states do operate on certain legal, diplomatic and political constraints that make open support sensitive.” “Facilitation” includes allowing access, providing visas where necessary, and security arrangements, while “other support” includes declaratory language, formalized discussions, and funding. So, on this role of states in NSAG engagement, one “advice for activists” is “Consider SPs [States-Parties, in the context of the Ottawa Treaty] partners in the effort. Those asking the most difficult questions are those most likely to be interested. If you want SPs to be financial/political partners, accept their sensitivities.” But financial and political partnerships are best founded on certain shared values or common ground which for activists can be humanitarianism, human rights, human security, etc., but who will likely have a problem with national security, counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism of the GWOT kind. Sensitivities work both ways.

Early on in the work of engaging NSAGs in a landmine ban, the main concerns of states or governments were duly noted: that it might give NSAGs unwa(rra)nted legitimacy, recognition and even belligerency status, as well as a platform for propaganda. But at least in humanitarian engagement, if not in other kinds of engagements, such engagement “shall not affect the legal status of the Parties to the Conflict.” Also, “Nothing in this Protocol [for non-international armed conflicts] shall be invoked for the purpose of affecting the sovereignty of a State or the responsibility of the government, by all legitimate means, to maintain or re-establish law and order in the State or to defend the national unity and territorial integrity of the State.” Belligerency status is an outmoded or obsolete concept in modern international law. That all has to do with the legal, but the political and moral are another matter. One cannot do much about NSAG propagandizing, which is something to be expected. But it works both ways. The government can always do its own counter-propagandizing for which it has more resources. There are natural limits on propaganda by both sides, basically the limits of truth and reality which can make false propaganda backfire or counter-productive.

On the other hand, bringing in the “state dimension” also has its sensitivities at the NSAG end which is in an adversarial, often life-and-death, struggle with the state. Any state or governmental backing for an engagement initiative, even if driven by civil society, will somehow be suspect (like a “kiss of death”) as part of a counter-insurgency or low-intensity conflict scheme. One particular NSAG concern is security, where engagement might make them vulnerable to military and police intelligence-gathering and surveillance. Well, the background and track record of a civil society engager, as well as the terms of reference of its engagement initiative, should be determinative enough whether this is counter-insurgency or not. NSAGs would generally be able to see (through) this, even where there is some form of government “facilitation and other support.” They also know well enough about vulnerability to intelligence-gathering and surveillance when there is some kind of engagement, even if it is of the constructive kind. They will have to weigh all the trade-offs, as well as do their counter-measures.

These concerns of states and of NSAGs about the latter’s engagement are valid or understandable but are not arguments against the idea of NSAG engagement, the rationale for which is well established. But they do underscore the sensitive, often difficult and sometimes dangerous nature of such engagement. One can get caught in the crossfire, figuratively and literally. Longtime civil society field campaigner Yeshua Moser-Puangsuwan of North America and Thailand advised fellow campaigners about some of the dangers, including of being used:

I have personally known NGO workers who were “allowed” by a government to contact NSAs – only to realize that the government was using them to target people. All their contacts were later assassinated. It was difficult for the individuals involved to live with this knowledge.

This work is dangerous. Be aware of potential illegal activity. NSAs, by definition, usually are illegal. Any contract you have with them may well constitute a crime for which you can be jailed or worse. Always know the potential risks you are taking and factor them into your decision-making. Discuss this with others who are knowledgeable and seek their wisdom on your course of action.

Given such perspectives from the ground, even more important than the facilitation and other support which states can provide to the non-governmental work of constructively engaging NSAGs would be genuinely “recognizing the need for and legitimacy of such efforts” and giving the NGOs concerned their due respect, which includes not taking any undue advantage of anybody. This would best not be presumed or left to chance but instead clarified and ensured as part, in fact the minimum, of any necessary state engagement. This is what might be called the tactical level, i.e. on an engagement to engagement basis. But there is also the more strategic level, i.e. the policy environment for NSAG engagement, ideally an enabling environment for such engagement. But in an un-ideal world, it can be more of a disabling environment. For example, in Sri Lanka, even pre-9/11, mere approach to or talking with the LTTE was prohibited. The international environment for NSAG engagement post-9/11 has become considerably more difficult, especially for NSAGs listed as “terrorist”:

The pariah status of “terrorist” groups creates very real political and practical problems. Talking to them is not only frowned on, but actively discouraged, not least because the mere notion that such groups might be willing to engage undermines efforts to further ostracize them. At a practical level, the global outlawing of such groups makes engagement with their leadership very difficult – and could raise legal issues for the mediators involved.

x x x

International rules are changing to create greater means for holding armed groups accountable, but remain static in relation to allowing processes of engagement that if successful would obviate the need for legal sanctions.

This reveals another gap which also needs minding for the cause of constructively engaging NSAGs. For one thing, the main critique of post-9/11 anti-terrorism legislation and measures has been from the prism of human rights, particularly fundamental freedoms and civil liberties, and rightly so, but such legislation and measures can also be critiqued from the prism of NSAG engagement. Apart from the impact of counter-terrorism measures (CTMs) on NSAGs listed as “terrorist,” there is also the impact on civil society groups, especially in the Global South: “Overly restrictive security policies have contributed to a climate of suspicion toward nongovernmental groups, particularly those that challenge social exclusion and unequal power relations. Many of the organizations that work against extremism by promoting human rights and development are themselves being labeled extremist and are facing constraints in their ability to operate.”

The Friend not Foe: Civil Society and the Struggle against Violent Extremism report presents an interesting perspective for those, not only states, whose main concern is the real enough human rights problem of terrorism: “Through their efforts for development and human rights, civil society groups are working to dry up the wells of extremism from which violence springs. Civil society organizations address political grievances, socio-economic injustices, and power imbalances that are among the root causes of armed conflict. This work is not labeled counterterrorism, nor should it be, but it is exactly what is needed to counter violent extremism. International policymakers must recognize and protect this vital civil society mission and take action to eliminate counterproductive CTMs. In the global struggle against terrorism civil society groups should be welcomed as friends, not hounded as foes.”

And as we made clear early on, terrorism – just like human rights violations – can be that committed both by NSAGs and by states. There is another “state dimension” of NSAG engagement, aside from the main one of engaging states in order to engage NSAG. This is the dimension of also directly engaging the states for the same or similar violations for which NSAGs are being engaged. In other words, some kind of “reciprocity,” even-handedness or balancing. This has been known to enhance engagement prospects on both sides:

Armed groups, or their political representatives, may be more inclined to talk with human rights groups if the latter have been consistent in their stance against government violations. This has been an avenue for dialogue in the past and arguably provides the precondition for contemporary armed groups to be prepared to listen to arguments of human rights advocates.

Some human rights organizations have found that when they report human rights violations by the “other side” or address grievances that underlie conflict, they gain credibility and leverage with groups that carry out terrorist acts. This has been the case with Palestinian groups, for example, for whom documentation of Israeli abuses establishes the good faith of human rights organizations.

We are not saying that a particular NSAG engagement by a civil society entity must always be accompanied by a simultaneous “corresponding” state engagement by that same civil society entity. It should be enough that the background and track record of the civil society entity show the requisite neutrality and impartiality, including past state engagement for the same or similar violations that may be in issue with the NSAG. Of course, this also depends on the mandate of the civil society entity – which might be addressing the state only, NSAGs only, or both. Also, in the overall scheme of human rights and international humanitarian law (IHL) advocacy and groups, there could be some kind of division (inc. specialization) of work – again, in addressing the state only, NSAGs only, or both. And even as we say that violations should be addressed, whichever side commits them, the respective engagement approaches to the state and to the NSAGs would normally be different. The relative underdevelopment of approaches, tools and mechanisms for NSAG engagement, compared to state engagement, is precisely a rationale for some special attention to be devoted to NSAG engagement.

A third and final “state dimension” of NSAG engagement is that of the state itself directly engaging NSAGs. This in fact cannot be avoided in the main field of peace process engagement, where it takes the two to tango – shall we say, a close encounter of the third kind. But in the two other main fields of humanitarian/IHL and human rights engagements, while the state can also directly engage – such as through public calls on – NSAGs on their IHL and human rights violations, the state’s adversarial position vis-à-vis NSAGs does not place it in the best or most credible (at least to the NSAGs) position for such engagement. This is where neutral and impartial interlocutors like civil society entities usually have a more constructive and more productive role.

X. What Is To Be Done?

In the end, the classic revolutionary question is “What is to done?” What basically needs to be done to move forward is to EXPAND the Southern-led work of constructively engaging NSAGs esp. in Asia as the key conflict region, in terms of several aspects:
 Without neglecting the relatively well-developed main fields of humanitarian, human rights and peace process engagement, pay more attention to the gaps in developing the practice and theory in:

* underdeveloped fields of engagement like democratization, the gender question, development, governance, and moral and ethical renewal

* refinement of the Southern perspective and approach for this work

* use of complementary or alternative normative frameworks

 More proactively and effectively harness the Southern motive forces for this work. The vanguard, as it were, would and should still come from the NGO-advocates-activists sector and closely related academics who are action-oriented. But this like-minded core must expand beyond their circles, to engage those in other sectors of civil society who may be interested or disposed to participate in or otherwise support this work.

 Strive for the institutionalization and systematization of this work by developing two possible tracks which can inter-link:

(1) building regional institutional centers in the South that can help coordinate, systematize and support this work in such program areas as learning exchange, information resource (inc. regional NSAG engagement databases), in-depth research, skills training and capacity building, which regional centers can be interlinked with each other as well as with relevant centers, institutes and programs in the North ; and

(2) introducing or mainstreaming the NSAG engagement dimension as an important concern, where appropriate, in NGO work and multi-disciplinary academic work (esp. research in the social sciences) in the South.

Whether in the academe or in the NGOs, sound research and information resources are basic for NSAG engagement work. A Southern capacity in research and information resources can also enhance the Southern perspective and approach for this work.

 Initiate a purposive Southern civil society-led international effort to mainstream the NSAG engagement dimension in appropriate concerns and bodies of the UN system, both its Charter-based and its treaty-based organs. One 2004 policy brief for the UN had already called on its Member States to put the resources, political support and moral authority of the UN behind the efforts of the humanitarian and human rights communities to seek NSAG accountability for various violations. The successes of civil society and NGO engagement of the UN system esp. on human rights are a source of hope for this purposive effort.

It may be time to (re)consider, at various levels of UN organs, proposals like those of Peru and Colombia at the 1990 session of the UN Commission on Human Rights in Geneva for the creation of a special mechanism – i.e. special rapporteurs and working groups – and a separate Commission agenda item for the subject of “irregular armed groups.” At the minimum, the current general mode for existing special rapporteurs and working groups to pay particular attention to the NSAG violations, and for this matter to be given high priority but not as a separate agenda item, can still be improved and maximized. One basis for this could be the experience with and also improvements in the three-fold mechanisms for (1) monitoring and reporting, (2) dialogue, and (3) action under UN Security Council Resolution 1612 with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict as focal point.

 Generate the necessary institutional or project support for this work, primarily from private Asian-oriented foundations, esp. those that are also peace-oriented, and also where feasible from tie-ups with academic or academe-related institutions.

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3/23/10

Notes:

1. A.B. History cum laude (UP), LL.B. (UNC), LL.M. (Melb); Filipino human rights and international humanitarian lawyer; peace advocate, researcher and writer, the author and editor of several books; a Nippon Foundation Asian Public Intellectuals (API) Senior Fellow for 2009-10, with the Research and Education for Peace (REP) Unit, School of Social Sciences, Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) in Penang as host institution from 6 July to 5 September 2009; this essay is the major output of that fellowship for which the author is grateful but claims sole responsibility for the views expressed here. He is a newly appointed Judge of the 9th Municipal Circuit Trial Court (MCTC) of Nabua-Bato, Camarines Sur in his home Bicol region of the Philippines.

2. A region-anchored civil society initiative from the Global South which seeks to develop more effective approaches, instruments and intellectual resources for the constructive engagement of non-state armed groups (NSAGs). See www.southsouthnetwork.com.

3. “Rebel” and “insurgent” are used here generically, and not in accordance with the obsolete or outmoded traditional public international law categories of “rebels, insurgents, and belligerents.”

4. Basically following the definition of “armed groups” in International Council on Human Rights Policy, Ends & Means: Human Rights Approaches to Armed Groups (Versoix, Switzerland: International Council on Human Rights Policy, Second edition, 2006)
6) [hereinafter referred to as “Ends & Means”], but in our case qualifying the group’s objectives as political/quasi-political.

5. Non-State Actors Database, “Non-State Armed Actors: Region & Country Survey” (4th edition, December 2001),prepared under the supervision of Colombian field consultant and campaigner Eduardo Marino.

6. Nicholas N. Kittrie, Rebels with a Cause: The Minds and Morality of Political Offenders (Boulder, Colorado, USA: Westview Press, 2000) 331, 340 [hereinafter “Kittrie, Rebels with a Cause”].

7. C. Douglas Lummis, Terror and the Terrorist (Penang, Malaysia: Multiversity & Citizens International, Dissenting Knowledges Pamphlet Series No. 7, 2008) 11, 19 [hereinafter “Lummis, Terror and the Terrorist”].

- David Capie and Pablo Policzer, “Keeping the promise of protection: Holding armed groups to the same standard as states” (A policy brief commissioned for the UN Secretary General’s High Level Panel on Global Security, Armed Groups Project, Working Paper 3, January 2004).
- Matas, “Armed Opposition Groups,” 621.
- See Restoy, “Armed Groups and Resolution 1612,” 6-7.


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