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How ex-combatants talk about personal security. Narratives of former paramilitaries in Colombia

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abstract Previous literature on disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR) argues that a lack of personal security may lead ex-combatants to re-engage in violence. The present article takes a deeper look at what happens when ex-combatants are faced with insecure situations. More specifically, it asks about the narratives ex-combatants construct with relation to personal security. This article is based on 62 semi-structured interviews with former members of the United Self-Defence Forces of Colombia (AUC). After their demobilisation, 1385 ex-members of this paramilitary group have been killed between 2003 and 2010. In this climate of violence against the demobilised, many ex-combatants feel exposed to potential threats and claim to respond to these threats with anonymity, good citizenship or isolation. When faced with imminent threats, they mention relocation, self-defence and group protection as consequential strategies. The latter two narratives may lead ex-combatants to re-engagement in violence. State protection is a hypothetical narrative since most ex-combatants do not trust in authorities. The bottom-up approach applied in this study allows one to identify the security alternatives from their perspective. Considering the security-related skills and experiences of ex-combatants, this is an important element in the post-demobilisation period. Furthermore, the mentioned set of mostly non-violent coping strategies challenges the dominant view that ex-combatants are predisposed to violence.
   
type journal paper
   
keywords Security; DDR; ex-combatants; paramilitaries; Colombia; narratives
   
language English
kind of paper journal article
date of appearance 15-12-2011
journal Conflict, Security & Development
publisher Taylor & Francis (London)
ISSN 1467-8802
ISSN (online) 1478-1174
DOI 10.1080/14678802.2011.641725
volume of journal 11
number of issue 5
page(s) 579-606
review not reviewed
   
citation Nussio, E. (2011). How ex-combatants talk about personal security. Narratives of former paramilitaries in Colombia. Conflict, Security & Development, 11(5), 579-606, DOI:10.1080/14678802.2011.641725.