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Improving Responses to Protracted Conflict: Why Borderlands Matter for Upstream Engagement

  • Annette Idler
Chapter

Abstract

How do borderlands matter for upstream engagement, aiming to reduce threats to global stability and security that arise from the world’s increasing interconnectedness? I show that border areas in vulnerable regions are hubs of protracted conflict that undermine security not just locally, but across the globe. Violent non-state groups take advantage of these spaces to engage in cross-border operations through which they strengthen transnational networks. They also benefit from deficient state capacities in these zones to impose illicit governance structure. Borderlands thus host long-term drivers of instability: They are strategic corridors for transnational organised crime, sites of retreat for conflict actors and safe havens of terrorists. Employing a transnational borderland perspective, I conclude that upstream operations currently follow an approach that is ill-equipped to address the security threats that emanate from such regions: First, they are guided by state-centric concepts of security that focus on borderlines rather than borderlands; and second, they prioritise governance functions provided by the state, thereby neglecting how governance functions are taken over by violent non-state actors. The chapter draws on empirical data from a seven-year study including over a year of fieldwork in and on Colombia’s borderlands.

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Copyright information

© The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Annette Idler
    • 1
  1. 1.University of OxfordOxfordUK

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