Small Wars Journal

Human Security in the Digital Age: A Relocation of Power and Control over Security from State to Non-State Actors

Thu, 06/04/2015 - 12:10am

Human Security in the Digital Age: A Relocation of Power and Control over Security from State to Non-State Actors

Magdalena Defort

The purpose of his article is to examine the increasing role of non-state actors in security issues. This paper sheds light on the relocation of power and control over security from state to non-state armed actors, such as drug cartels, paramilitaries, terrorists, self-defense groups, warlords, private security, and military companies as an effect of technological and informational revolutions, a phenomenon unfolding over the last decade. It seeks to better understand privatization of both security as well as violence in an increasingly globalized world.

Background: State-buildings and its Relations with Non-state Actors

The formation and rise of the activities of an array of non-state actors are linked to state-building and state sovereignty and depend on political and economic trends occurring around the world. Following Max Weber and Charles Tilly’s thinking, state-making is directly connected to war-making. The successful formation of the state depends on a monopolization of the means of coercion in defense of a state’s sovereignty. To assure its sovereignty, the state creates institutions (regular armed forces, police) and a system of financial support (taxes) to ensure its unchallenged power and control over political coercion. This concept is based on a long history of European states and other nation-states affected by the emergence of new security threats and, at the same time, a need to defeat them. However, traditional state-building and its sovereignty have changed. Economic and political trends strengthened by technological advancement and pervasive Internet information, have totally reconfigured the world map. These factors drive the relocation of power and control over security from state to non-state actors. According to Diane E. Davis, “specialized paramilitary forces now replace the national military on the front line of violent conflict, while citizens arms themselves both offensively and defensively as vigilante groups, militias, terrorists, and even mafia organizations and seek to conduct or bypass the state’s claim on monopoly of legitimate force.”[i] As a consequence, in regions such as Africa or Latin America, where economic liberalization was not synchronized with the consolidation of new democratic structures, irregular armed forces ranging from paramilitaries to mafia to vigilantes emerged from civil society, becoming locally organized law-enforcement or clandestine security apparatuses. In these regions, the likelihood of internal violence or conflict can increase. 

As it is known, every age has its leitmotif, a set of beliefs that explains the universe—that inspires or consoles the individual by providing an explanation for the multiplicity of events impinging on it. In the medieval period, it was religion; in the Enlightenment, it was reason, in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, it was nationalism combined with a view of history as motivating force. Science and technology are the governing concepts of our age.[ii] On the one hand, the technological advances create popular empowerment and progress toward peace, for example authoritarian governments have fallen because of the spread of digital information or social protests convened online. On the other hand, they enabled non-state actors to manage the control over security.

Technological advances already mentioned erode state importance which has strong implications for security. It fosters a tendency to increase internationalism, as well as privatization, and implies that a nation could redistribute its power on a constant basis, globally and privately. On the one side, the information revolution empowered new forms of international actors, such as NGOs and activists. On the other side, an eventual emergency of a global electronic marketplace implies a collapse of the state’s economic pillar of power, as companies increasingly become global citizens and economic boundaries no longer correspond to political ones.[iii] Information and technological developments challenge individual states, their status as a nation, and ultimately the coercive power that they possess. 

Manuel Castells in Power of Identity, the second volume of his Network Society Trilogy, assumes that in the globalized and neo-liberal world, the citizen quests for belonging, e.g. the search for a defined nation (country) or even community.[iv] As the alternative to belonging, the human creates that which Diane E. Davis called “imagined communities.”[v] These imagined spaces are built on the identity,[vi] race, religion, or a network of social or economic productions; they establish the non-state world. From an existentialist perspective, the human would need to belong to a more limited space than the globalized world is able to offer. By and large, to protect, nurture, or sustain their activities, non-state actors resort to arms because their interests go in opposed directions to the state priorities. In Castells’ formulation, the non-state armed actors, as social entities, are characterized as “resistance identities.” This identity is generated by these actors who are in positions and conditions devaluated and/or stigmatized by the logic domination, thus they create trenches of resistance and survival within the institutions of society.[vii] This form of identity-building is a driving force in the creation of Davis’ “imagined communities” or ungoverned spaces.

The technology and information revolutions that have emerged in the neo-liberal globalized world prepared avenues for identity-building and the new dynamics and modus operandi of non-state players. In this current networking era, non-state actors enter into existing legal networks through money laundering that links the criminal economy to the global market. In addition, they are able, independently, to build their own web nodes (e.g., terrorist or criminal organizations) and operate within non-state worlds. The modus operandi of non-state actors in networking systems creates indestructible web linkages. It is easier to destroy the separate nodes within the network. For example, terrorist groups, such as Al-Qaeda or most recently ISIS (Islamic terroristic group), are masters at using Internet and communication media to forward their terroristic activities. They establish the perfect networks to operate in every corner of the world. Twenty-first century advances enable these groups to intimidate the most powerful states through cyberattacks or remote control bombs, attracting new followers from around the world.

Today, the success of non-state armed actors is grounded on sources of global and local capital. Because they act in the non-state worlds, they diminish both the legitimacy and resource-extraction capacities of building-state. Their modus operandi is to create new networks of individuals and economic activities and connecting them in and across transnational or sub-national territories. As Davis said, “the armed actors act on behalf of these new networks – or protection rackets – sometimes wield as much coercive power than do their ‘host’ nation-states, at least in particular locations and territories.”[viii]

Non-state actors are making the state obsolete. Today, the state faces deep difficulties in providing security for its residents against threats, such as information warfare and cyber-terrorism because non-state actors’ belligerent activities pass beyond the physical boundaries and are fought in virtual space. The idea that knowledge and information establish a pivotal source of wealth, confirms the opinion that, in the future, the states in cyberspace would no longer need their military power or natural resources. However, the skills and tools in using technology and information to manage their power in the international virtual system will be imperative.                                  

An evolutionary conception of history is the foundation for many assessments of the state of world affairs. The evolution is fundamental to Francis Fukuyama’s assertion that history is coming to an end, due to a process of democratization and globalization that is ushering in a lasting era of peace. Nevertheless, it is not history itself that has ended but rather, because of its ongoing nature, one of its periods, which was replaced by another, that is the Digital Era that followed the Industrial Age. In every period of history, human security has undergone different threats, ranging from stones, to guns, to virtual hijacking and, with each, humanity has sought new protection solutions. 

In the context of technological and informational development, private security—shaped by natural human fear of criminal organizations’ rampant violence—is a venue for social need, an environment for governmental policies, and a new legal mechanism to control power and leverage of private sectors. Indeed, the power of private actors in the digital age creates new conditions—problems and opportunities—despite the fact that privatization of security has dated back to the Middle Ages in Europe. Examples of these new conditions include the advances in technology, information, and communications, which have been the main forces in relocating security power from the state to the private sector.

Reconceptualizing Security

The principal theoretical perspectives on the post-Cold War international security structure are neorealist, globalist, and regionalist. The neorealist theory emphasizes distribution of material power in the international security system, which determines the global political structure. Its interpretation of the post-Cold War structure assumes that there has been a change of power at the global level (the end of bipolarity), and its concern is to identify the nature of that change in order to identify the security consequences.[ix] The globalist point of view about the security structure is the antithesis of realism and neorealism. According to this theory, globalization is rooted in cultural, transnational, and political economic approaches. From this perspective, the global market, capitalism, or various forms of world society best reflects the ideas of system structure. Globalization theory’s hallmark is the acknowledgment of the independent role of both transnational entities—corporations, non-governmental social and political organizations—and intergovernmental organizations and regions. The state is often a player within these networks, but it does not necessarily control them.[x] The regionalist theory is comprised of both neoliberalism and globalism elements. This perspective, however, gives priority to a lower level of study. Both neoliberalism and globalism are based on territoriality and security. Security is a realm in which the logic of territoriality operates strongly.[xi] The Cold War and decolonization period, 1945 to 1989, created contradictory effects. On the one side, the wave of decolonization rolled back imperial power. It created new states, allowing regional security dynamics to operate among these independent actors. On the other hand, two superpowers (US and Soviet Union) subordinated most of the world. Since 1990, during post-Cold War period, bi-polarity ended and the concern over traditional security threats, e.g. military invasion, ended. Instead, new non-state actors and new concerns about security appeared on the national agendas.

For example, in the United States, the concept of public security was little understood or used. The term law and order prevailed in the policymakers’ dictionary. This term reflected the repression of crime and violence or political dissent. Before the terroristic attacks of September 11, 2001, public security reflected fire protection, disaster relief, transportation, and disease prevention. However, when the situation changed after this disastrous event, the federal government responded with the doctrine of homeland security, which strongly emphasizes counterterrorism. National security in foreign policy was extended to deterrence and containment concepts that were integrated into homeland security organization. A decision on the implementation of these procedures was justified based on the theory that because the boundaries between crime and warfare and between external and internal threats were blurred or erased, the role of police, military, judiciary, and intelligence should be redefined in ways to reduce long-standing distinctions. For example, in the judiciary field, the passage of the US Patriot Act on new uses of the military courts was introduced. In addition, police power at both state and local levels was strengthened. In light of this Act, the role of the private sector in guarding the public good, e.g. communications from terroristic attacks, increased in relation to protection provided by the government.[xii] The national security beyond the United States boundaries has been in possession of non-state actors. PMSCs (Private Military and Security Companies) and warlords (as a co-guarantor of stability in the post-conflict regions) have been drawn more deeply into fighting asymmetric threats and protecting the public security.

Without doubt, the 9/11 terrorist strike shifted not only a perception of the United States regarding its military security capabilities in providing security to its citizens within and beyond its boundaries, but also its understanding of itself as a global power able to control security in the world.

Relocation of Control Over Security

State-building itself is a continuation of crime by other means.[xiii] The presence of government is not necessarily a positive sign because it may act repressively or coercively.  The ability for political dissent is one of the ways of protesting against a powerful state. This was seen not only during Cold War, but also as the geopolitical shifts of the 21st century challenged the Westphalia state system established in 1648 after the Thirty Years’ War in Europe. During the Cold War, the world underwent a division between two superpowers with different ideological visions about world order: capitalism and communism.

After 9/11, non-state actors began to create a new vision of the world order in which the boundaries among nation-states are blurred. In addition, technological advances and the spread of information facilitated and fostered changes to the security roadmap. The newly arisen asymmetric threats reshaped the concept of security and the understanding of the world order. Developed countries are no longer primarily occupied with securing territorial integrity and political independence. Indeed, a new agenda concerning non-conventional security strategies to combat non-traditional threats became a necessity. They, by definition, do not involve state armies; instead, they include an array of transnational threats that are impossible for governments to eliminate. Nayef R.F. Al Rodhan identified eleven key challenges to national security in the 21st century, including these five dominant ones:

  1. Changing Global Power Structure, State Failure and Regional Conflicts: various factors affecting international power relationships and international stability; state failure, rogue state, ethnic, tribal, and religious warfare;
  2. The Information Revolution and National Security: new communication and information technology can be used in harmful ways against states through information warfare and cyberattacks, and as tools to organize international terrorist or criminal activities;
  3. Transnational Organized Crime: transnational organized crime can undermine a state’s economic development and internal political stability; it can also weaken a state’s social fabric and promote violence;
  4. Non-state Actors, Terrorism and Asymmetric Warfare: threatens state stability posed by armed intrastate groups or international terrorists using unconventional means of warfare and often harsh brutality against civilians;
  5. The Privatization of Security: the increased use of private security companies by states lessens state accountability for military actions and may lower the threshold for states to engage in adventurous actions.[xiv]                          

These challenges facing national security are derived from non-state actors because they do not represent state forces and are thus outside state structures and powers. Indeed, non-state actors are the new security players in a refigured world order of their own design. Since 9/11, asymmetry in security issues has become the norm. Currently, it is not interstate conflicts but aggression provoked by private actors that is a key element of national and international security agendas. The rise of the non-traditional threats provoked by armed non-state actors is an engine for a surge of the private players in security governance. This fact requires developing a new understanding of who will be responsible for security, e.g. the private security companies, self-defense forces or, vigilantes, even, warlords. In this scenario where only non-states actors play a main “security” role, violence escalates. However, due to the declining role of the state and, at the same time, a rise in the role of private players, non-state actors feel that they are now responsible to implement human security to eradicate violence. Anja P. Jakobi and Klaus Deter Wolf have stated that, in relation to state and non-state actors, “violence is and remains a continuing political challenge.”[xv] Today, although the state is responsible for taking all measures to combat insecurity, the active participation of private actors is also an imperative.

Non-state Actors as the New Guarantor of Security  

Governments began authorizing privatized security forces as early as the thirteenth century, when privateering emerged for the first time; large private armies were widespread in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries; and mercenaries were commonplace in the eighteenth century.[xvi] Therefore, a phenomenon of privatization of security forces is not new. As this history demonstrates, when citizens perceive their state and armed forces to be no longer capable of supplying effective security, they may turn to alternative providers, such as private security companies or even international organizations. Today, security privatization and globalization seem to go hand-in-hand due to the following causes: 1) international efficiency, 2) reduced state control, and 3) reduced proclivity to confront risks.[xvii] In addition, a growing interdependence among countries, associated with globalization, reinforces the privatization of security. The broadest roots of privatization of security stem from the end of the Cold War. States could no longer depend on the superpowers to restrain internal conflicts and provide external security. Because of the absence of outside threats, their defense sectors collectively declined. 

In addition, employing private security frequently occurs when governments have formed illicit structures of power, e.g. the Guatemalan illegal entities,[xviii] or have developed a nexus with the underworld, e.g. Afghanistan during Hamid Karzai’s presidency. In another case, despite the government’s efforts to assure security on the streets, a lack of technology and of highly qualified police and/or security guards leads to the same unresolved insecurity problem. In every case, a lack of trust in the legal armed forces’ (the police and military) abilities and competency has galvanized a surge of private security companies, which has created an enormous new industry. For example, in Latin America, an army of nearly four million private security agents make up an industry that is growing nine percent a year and is projected to reach about $30 billion by 2016.[xix] However, rampant criminal activity is still unresolved. In this violent scenario, the residents, unable to contract the guards for hire, have formed their own vigilante or self-defense groups.

In the regions of prolonged armed conflict or rampant criminal activities, the security concept and its nature rapidly changed. For example, in Afghanistan, the warlords participate in the governance of crime and violence. Warlords are associated not only with economic inefficiency, stunted growth, and weakened states, but also with social ills such as drug addition, gun culture, and human trafficking.[xx] In addition, warlords make business not only with the state, but also with foreign states. The host state can also use warlords to directly influence weak political partners inside their sovereign territories. Warlords cooperate not only with state leaders, but also with various non-state actors, e.g. businessmen who invest in their own territories. In other cases, they collaborate with aid workers, whose contracts depend on the quality of security they provide to them. They may act as the “governors” because of their appointments to head regional gubernatorial administrations. They can also become the leaders of political parties. Warlords are specialists in violence who practice power politics and patronage.[xxi] Warlords control a small piece of territory through force and patronage. Their use of force was possible because of their militias or private armies. In turn, patronage is what allows the warlord to command a militia that has to be hired for its services. This kind of relationship dates back to the medieval European system called “feudalism,” where a vassal paid his private army for its service. To maintain the militia, the warlord needs a patronage network to gather resources. In turn, to pay off the patronage network, a warlord needs to control the local political economy, e.g. collecting taxes or engaging in illicit traffic. Such control demands that the warlord maintain a mafia-like protection racket over local businesses.[xxii] Today, warlords as the co-guarantor of stability, have become a part of ‘governance,’[xxiii] a key concept in political science. Today, warlordism still exists due to its protection by the state. Warlords collaborate with state leaders to serve their mutual self-interests, e.g. to control criminal violence. According to scholars, the medieval era’s warlordism has evolved into good governance.[xxiv] As the feudal lord in the Middle Ages was more powerful than the king, today’s warlord has become guarantor or even co-regulator of security when he collaborates with the state.

Another form of force—based on patronage and protection, such as the criminal networks—can provide some sense of stability and security when the state legal systems are weak. For example, in Mexico, if one criminal organization maintains a monopoly on its modus operandi in a state, its “security” and “stability” are additionally guaranteed because this criminal organization gains protection from corrupt local state officials and security forces. For example, “the Knights Templar Cartel” (Cartel de los Caballeros Templarios), a splinter group of the once-mighty “Michoacán Family” (La Familia Michoacana, also born from a split in another organization, “the Milenio Cartel”), gained control of Michoacán State in 2011. However, the last national security strategy designed to capture the drug lords provoked not only an increase in violence, but also caused a surge of new smaller criminal organizations born from a split in the powerful drug cartels. In the light of this operation, in 2015, the Knights Templar Cartel’s leader Servanto Gómez Martínez (known as La Tuta or El Profe) was captured. Absence of the leader created a power vacuum. This criminal organization was disbanded, but now from its remnants, new smaller rival cartels (cartelitos) could form that might fight to control Michoacán, spreading more violence in the streets.

Greed for money and power, a motivation of drug lords and mafia bosses, forces these non-state armed actors to protect their space in order to operate freely inside it. The Internet became a suitable space for the black economy. For example, the “Silk Road,” called the “eBay of the underworld,” was a crypt-market website where drug dealers and their suppliers did business. They could freely navigate in digital space without producing the physical violence associated with the physical drug market. In addition, Colombian guerrillas[xxv]—drug traffickers also portrayed as a criminal organization—established a network with the Hezbollah Islamic terrorist group to exchange drugs for guns. By and large, non-state armed actors, e.g. the drug lords who are involved in protecting their territory and who assert their political and economic power through illicit networks of trade and distribution, are not struggling for political dominion, control of the state, or a reversal in patterns of political exclusion. Their activities instead focus on economic domination. Their desire focuses not on political control over national territory; rather they look to control key local nodes and transnational networks that make their economic activities possible. If drug lords confront the state, they do not do it for political power or influence in political decisions. Rather they struggle with state armed forces or corrupt their institutions in order to achieve laissez-faire and, in this way, they change the state-building into ungoverned space or “imagined identity,” in Davis’s words. Indeed, this criminal penetration into governmental structures destabilizes the state and, in many cases, threatens the sovereignty of the state, although the meaning of sovereignty understood by non-state armed actors substantially differs from that which is understood by its old relationship to classical state-building.

Contemporary non-state armed actors are the quintessential ‘armed actors’ because they existed in a world before the advent of the modern state. The imagined communities co-exist and overlap with the modern state, and by so doing have a feedback effect on ‘old’ imagined communities (e.g. the national state) and their relationship to society, by virtue of their capacity to de-legitimize, weaken, or challenge political allegiance to the nation-state.

Non-states actors cooperate in public-private partnerships or public policy networks. A new role of state and non-state actors has triggered an ongoing debate about the implications of public-private co-regulation and shared political authority for both effectiveness and legitimacy of governance.[xxvi] In the context of security governance, non-state actors are usually conceived as violators of the state monopoly of force and challengers to effective governance. For example, warlords undermine governmental rule, rebel groups strive for succession, or violent actors exploit resources in war economies. However, the problem arises not only from the non-state actor. Acceptance of non-state actors as co-regulators or representatives of government can only take place if such non-state actors are perceived as legitimate actors by the state.[xxvii]

In instances of limited statehood, security has become a major business. Private Military and Security Companies (PMSCs) have become widespread. They offer military services such as personnel, weapons, electronic devices, and military equipment for combat. With regard to public security, they provide an array of services, including computer programs, intelligence service, security devices, and guard training. The contractors also deliver to governmental forces logistical support and training or, frequently, they work together with international personnel in the security field.[xxviii]

Private Military and Security Companies

Legal private companies, developing and improving their advanced responses to security threats, became the most competitive security guarantors, although their activity frequently produces the opposite effect: an increase and spread of violence. In fragile democratic structures, such as Latin America, the private security “guarantors” form a network with criminal organizations that they hire to protect them. The spread of private policing comes with unpredictable results. Growth of the industry has outpaced government regulation, creating a “buyer-beware” market for those hiring security officers. Most of the region’s security businesses operate without formal registration.[xxix] Many of them are engaged in criminal activities. For example, in Mexico, Arnoldo Villa Sanchez, the head of Elite Systems, a Guadalajara-based protection and alarm-service operation, was alleged by the US government to be security chief for the cartel led by Hector Beltran Leyva before the capo’s arrest in October 2014.[xxx] According to statistics, twenty-five percent of guards associated with private security commit violent crimes in their off hours.[xxxi] In the region, a relocation of control of security from state to private sectors has created lucrative networks of business and dependence. Government thus becomes a client of private companies and, additionally, private companies sometimes provide services for criminal organizations. On the one side, there is organized violence emerging from the underworld and its inner cronies of government. On the other side, there is crime committed by private security guards, who provide their services to criminal organizations.

By and large, all tasks from reading, shopping, education, political campaigns, surveillance, and military strategy are filtered through the computing realm. Every country, company, and individual is now being enlisted in the technological revolution as either a subject or an object.    

The phenomenon of PMSC participation not only in reconstruction of post-conflict countries but also in state-building has its origins in the Vietnam War when US planned to social engineer the country based on Western democratic institutions. Throughout the history of US military interventions in regions around the world before and after wars, US private contractors strongly participated in the domestic policies of these regions. For example, after the Vietnam War, US PMSCs participated in the reconstruction of communication and transportation infrastructure. In addition, following the end of the Cold War in 1991, hundreds of private corporations began operating under contract to the government to provide services too numerous count, and their presence mushroomed in the following years. In 2003, a contractor for former Vice President Dick Chaney’s Halliburton, the subsidiary Kellogg Brown and Root, signed a contract valued at $2.3 billion.[xxxii] Indeed, the aforementioned examples show that private providers of security are a very profitable business and can be an effective source for security when employed as governance partners. 

By and large, in the digital era, power and control over human security is concentrated in the hands of the private sector (non-state actors). Security and military companies have become the new “modern and globalized” medieval warlords. Indeed, not all but some of the feudal warlord system’s features are preserved. For example, to gain a security contract from a government or local state, the private company often must link to governmental personnel, officially sponsor or support a ruling party, or build a network of contacts with the most powerful persons able to support the company’s contract. 


In every era of history, violence and coercion have been key elements in human affairs. However, their specific forms and the meanings attached to them have changed and are still changing, and in this way have challenged human security. Indeed, in today’s age, emergent computer and information revolutions in the globalized and neo-liberal world posit a new challenge for human security. One of these challenges is the relocation of power and control over security, from the state to non-state actors.

The state-building outsiders (non-state actors) were empowered to design or “imagine” non-state worlds because their “legitimizing identity”[xxxiii] entered into crisis. Indeed, this shift was provoked by a disintegration of civil society inherited from the industrial era, a historical moment when the nation-state left its status quo as the main authority.[xxxiv] For example, in the United States, young immigrants from Central America formed the street gangs known as “las maras,” with which they identified. These criminal groups gave their members not only financial profit from their illicit activities, but also they constructed their “imagined community”: criminal organization spaces.

The most suitable soil upon which to build non-state spaces are the weak states, whose fragile government structures are easy to manage according to their rules. Today, globalization and neo-liberalization are indicators of proliferation and the increasing activity of non-state armed actors. In the digital revolution, not state-building leaders but rather non-state armed actors design a new concept of security and redefine the state and its sovereignty. Indeed, they are the designers of a new map of the world with ungoverned spaces or “imagined communities,” in Davis’s words. In this new-world order, the line separating battlefield and ordinary life has been blurred. The similar separation between ordinary insurrection and terroristic strike disappeared. The best example is the 2012 event in Benghazi, where, supposedly, a simple mob action was confused with a terrorist attack on the U.S. embassy.

In the digital age, society organizes to maximize “security” because an asymmetric conflict where all society becomes a target can emerge. In addition, the Internet and advances in information technology strengthened the black economy and eased the flow of a huge amount of money, encouraging transnational organized crime and other private actors to build virtual and actual non-state spaces. This scenario occurred because state-building left its stability as a crystalized and well organized entity: the government as an organization exercising control over the means of coercion within territorial limits attached to its polity (its organized actors).[xxxv]

End Notes

[i] Diane E. Davis and Anthony Pereira, Irregular Armed Forces and their Role in Politics and State Formation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003, 4.

[ii] Henry Kissinger, World Order. New York: Penguin Press, 2014, 330.

[iii] Ibid, 8-9.

[iv] Manuel Castells, Power of Identity. Hoboken: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009, 88.

[v] Diane E. Devis, “Non-State Armed Actors, New Imagined Communities, and Shifting Patterns of Sovereignty and Insecurity in the Modern World.” Contemporary Security Policy, August 2009, 

[vi] Identity refers to social actors and its meaning is constructed on the basis of cultural attribute. Although identities can be originated from the dominant institutions, they become identities only when and if social actors internalize them, and construct their meaning. And, the meaning is the symbolic identification by a social actor of purpose of her/his action. Castells, op. cit., 6-7.

[vii] Ibid, 8.

[viii] Davis, op. cit.

[ix] Barry Buzon and Ole Waever, Regions and Powers. The Structure of International Security. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003, 6.

[x] Ibid, 7.

[xi] Ibid, 12.

[xii] Kissinger, op. cit., 216.

[xiii] Paraphrasing Tilly; See Anja P. Jakobi and Klaus Deter Wolf, “Facing Violence and Crime: Models of Non-State Actor Involvement in Governance.” Anja P. Jakobi and Klaus Deter Wolf, Eds., The Transnational Governance of Violence and Crime. Non-State Actors in Security. (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013), 268. 

[xiv] Nayef R.F. Al-Rodhan, Neo-statecraft and Meta-geopolitics, (Zürich: Lit Verlag, 2009), 128.

[xv] Anja P. Jakobi and Klaus Deter Wolf, (Eds.), op.cit.

[xvi] Kimberly Marten, “Warlords and Governance.”Anja P. Jakobi and Klaus Deter Wolf, (Eds.), The Transnational Governance of Violence and Crime. Non-State Actors in Security. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013, 31.

[xvii] Ibid, 37.

[xviii] In Guatemala, the illegal entities called the Clandestine Security Apparatus (Cuerpos Ilegales y Aparatos Clandestinos de Seguridad or CIACS) were what has been more commonly denominated as paramilitary groups or militias. In Guatemala, they received the specific designation of Civilian Self-Defense Patrols (Patrullas de Autodefensa Civil or PACs). They were directed by the Army but composed mostly of peasants, many of them indigenous, with very elementary military training. The PACs were responsible for most massacres of defenseless civilians.

[xix] “Private Firms Filling Latin America’s Security Gap.” Associate Press, New York Times, New York City. November 27, 2014,

[xx] Kimberly Marten, op. cit., 12.

[xxi]  Ibid, 23.

[xxii] Ibid, 26.

[xxiii] The term refers to single or collective activities with the purpose of establishing collectively decisions or producing public goods. Modes of governance may take various forms, ranging from hierarchical command-and-control type regulation to soft persuasion or voluntary self-commitment. They can involve states as well as non-states, or both type in various interplay. Ibid, 8.  

[xxiv] It relies on socially accepted authority within community, not just power. Kimberly Marten, op. cit., p. 27.

[xxv] The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

[xxvi] Ibid.

[xxvii] Ibid, 200.

[xxviii] John Bailey, “From Law and Order to Homeland Security in the United States.” John Bailey and Lucía Dammert. Public Security and Police Reform in the Americas. Pittsburg: University of Pittsburg Press, 2006, 267.

[xxix] Ibid.

[xxx]  Ibid.

[xxxi] Ibid.

[xxxii] James M. Carter, “The lessons of the Last War Are Clear. The Military-Industrial Complex, Private Contractors and US Foreign Policy.” Failed States and Fragile Societies. A New World Disorder? Ingo Trauschweizer and Steven M. Miner, Eds. Columbus: Ohio University Press, 2014, 66-69.

[xxxiii] Introduced by the dominant institutions of society to extend and rationalize their domination vs social actors. Castells, op.cit., 8.

[xxxiv] Ibid, 70.

[xxxv] Charles Tilly, “Armed Forces in Europe.” Diane E. Davis and Anthony Pereira, Eds., op.cit., 41.


Categories: El Centro

About the Author(s)

Dr. Magdalena Defort served as an Intern Analyst at the Foundation of Defense of Democracies and as a Research Fellow at the Center for a Free and Secure Society. She recently received a master’s degree in National Security from the David Morgan Graduate School of National Security. She previously served  as a Scholar/Researcher in Latin American security issues at the University of Miami, Coral Gables where she directed an interdisiplinary research group on Latin American issues.. She holds a Ph.D. from the Universidad National Autónoma de Mexico (UNAM) and master’s degree from Universytet Wroclawski (Poland). She participated in post–doctoral studies at the Instituto de Ciencias Sociales (UNAM). Magdalena is the author of five books and various articles published in scholarly journals. Defort’s research interests include terrorism, drug trafficking, insurgencies, civil-military relations in Latin America and military collaborations in countering the new threats in the Americas.