Department of Politics, Languages & International Studies

State Security Structures: Paramilitaries and Pro-government militias

Dr Govinda Clayton (Senior Lecturer in International Conflict Analysis, University of Kent)

03 December 2015

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The talk was presented by Dr Govinda Clayton


When do countries employ what types of auxiliary security forces? Paramilitaries and pro-government militias (PGMs) are not part of a state’s formal armed forces, and how this auxiliary force structure actually develops remains less well understood. In this semianr Dr Govinda Clayton examines when PGMs emerge, when states invest in paramilitary forces, and when leaders rely on both types of security orga- nizations at the same time. He goes on to develop the argument that it requires more time and a stronger bureaucratic apparatus to build paramilitary groups, while governments are also more account- able for their actions than in the case of PGMs.

From this four observable implications are derived which relate to:

  1. state capacity,
  2. regime instability
  3. civil conflict, and
  4. a simultaneous relationship between paramilitaries and PGMs.

Using competing risks and simultaneous equation models on time-series cross-section data of a global sample in 1981-2007, the results not only further our understanding of how states structure their “non-traditional,” auxiliary security forces, but also have important implications for domestic state-sponsored violence and civil-military relations in general.