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Mainstreaming the non-state in bottom-up state-building: linkages between rebel governance and post-conflict legitimacy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)213
Number of pages243
JournalConflict, Security & Development
Issue number2

King's Authors


This article explores the potential for mainstreaming wartime rebel governance structures into post-conflict state-building efforts. Through a study of the Sudan People's Liberation Army/Movement's (SPLA/M) efforts at state-building in South Sudan (1994–2011), it examines the oft-neglected linkages between rebel governance and post-conflict legitimacy. Findings highlight three pitfalls of mainstreaming non-state roles without sufficient analysis of the sources of legitimacy underlying rebel governance frameworks. First, by drawing upon the functions and legitimacy of other non-state actors rather than the rebel group itself, an artificial image of state-building can be projected. Second, due to the fragmented and dispersed nature of legitimacy, the ‘bottom-up’ logic of state-building can prove dubious. Third, weak capacity in governance, and subcontracted sources of legitimacy, are likely to undermine the ability to develop independent structures and functions. Conclusions offer four case specific insights that can assist policy-makers in applying a more critical framework to the legitimacy of armed groups, before incorporating them into post-war governance arrangements.

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