Jan Boesten
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Annette Idler
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Mutual recognition in the context of contested statehood
Evidence from Tumaco, Colombia
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The authors’ data reveal variation in how local civilian populations perceive the behaviour of different violent non-state actors that operate in the same context. The chapter explores the reasons for this perception. It provides an intriguing entry point for recognition-based analyses of violent non-state actors.

The authors highlight that a successful transition, aiming to construct effective (civilian) state institutions in marginalised regions, requires understanding pre-peace accord relations between armed actors and local communities. They ponder whether the different experiences of guerrilla and paramilitary order in Colombia are indicative of differing effects of vertical and horizontal organisational structures and behavioural patterns of the armed group on the ability to recognise and be recognised. It is argued that in the context of non-state order during armed conflict (particularly when the line between crime and conflict is blurred), recognition is contingent on the existence of institutions. The organisational structure and behavioural patterns that are held responsible for enabling a degree of mutual recognition between armed actor and local community are of two types: the coherence of the internal organisational structure of the armed actor enables procedures for recognition by the community (they know who to talk to); and the space the armed actor allows for local communities to express their grievances indicates recognition of the community by the armed actor (providing space for input). Hence, post-conflict institutions should fulfil those two conditions: coherent, enduring structures (organisation) and space for voicing grievances that results in action (input and responsiveness).

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