K4D Helpdesk Report

Armed Group Transition from Rebel to Government

Published on 18 October 2021

Governments and political parties with an armed history are not unusual, yet how these groups function during and after the transition from conflict has largely been ignored by the existing literature.

Many former armed groups have assumed power in a variety of contexts. Whilst this process is often associated with brokered peace agreements that encourage former combatants to transform into political parties, mobilise voters, and ultimately stand for elections, this is not always the case. What is less clearly understood is how war termination by insurgent victory shapes patterns of post-war politics.

This rapid literature review collates available evidence of transitions made by armed groups to government. The literature collated presents a mixed picture, with transitions mediated by an array of contextual factors that are location and group specific. Case studies are drawn from a range of contexts where armed groups have assumed some influence over government (these include those via negotiated settlement, victory and in contexts of ongoing protracted conflict).

The review provides a series of readings and case studies that are of use in understanding how armed groups may transition in “post-conflict” settings.

Cite this publication

Avis, W. (2021). Armed group transition from rebel to government. K4D Helpdesk Report No. 1056. Institute of Development Studies. DOI: 10.19088/K4D.2021.125


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Institute of Development Studies
Avis, William


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