Publication:
THE PRINCIPAL-AGENT PROBLEM AND PRO-GOVERNMENT MILITIAS: CASES FROM COLOMBIA AND PERU

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Authors
Althouse, Rachel M.
Subjects
pro-government militias
militias
paramilitaries
warlords
self-defense forces
autodéfenses
civil defense forces
Rondas Campesinas
counterinsurgency
civil wars
Low Intensity Conflict
ungoverned spaces
weak states
para-institutional
para-states
death squads
vigilantism
Convivir
Colombia
Peru
Latin America
principal agent problem
agency dilemma
Cold War
guerrillas
delegation
incentives
non-state actors
auxiliary forces
civil-defense committees.
Advisors
Darnton, Christopher N.
Date of Issue
2018-06
Date
Publisher
Monterey, CA; Naval Postgraduate School
Language
Abstract
States (principals) frequently employ pro-government militias (agents) in low intensity conflicts with mixed results. In some cases, principal and agent interests diverge or the principal loses control over its agent, which devolves into an autonomous terrorist, warlord, or criminal organization. Looking at historical cases of Latin American pro-government militias from Colombia (Self-Defense groups, Convivirs, and Hometown Soldiers) and Peru (Rondas Campesinas), I examined the principal-agent problem in the context of state-sponsored, pro-government militias and answered the following question: How do sponsor states succeed or fail in maintaining positive control and influence over pro-government militias? States fail when they grant too much autonomy and firepower to militias and succeed when they limit militias’ autonomy by subjecting them to a tailored combination of control mechanisms: monitoring, screening, sanctions, and rewards. Cases from Colombia and Peru demonstrate that the best way to control militias and employ them in counterinsurgency is by incorporating them as legitimate auxiliaries of the armed forces. Incorporation of a militia into the armed forces greatly reduces the principal-agent problem, the associated risk of diverging interests and objectives, and the future pain of demobilization. Arming militias with restricted use weapons, outsourcing their financing to private benefactors, and granting them too much autonomy is a recipe for disaster.
Type
Thesis
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Series/Report No
Department
National Security Affairs (NSA)
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NPS Report Number
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Distribution Statement
Approved for public release; distribution is unlimited.
Rights
This publication is a work of the U.S. Government as defined in Title 17, United States Code, Section 101. Copyright protection is not available for this work in the United States.
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