On the Rights of Warlords: Legitimate Authority and Basic Protection in War-Torn Societies
Robert A. Blair, Brown University
Pablo Kalmanovitz, Universidad de los Andes
This article examines the legitimacy of the use of force by armed nonstate actors resisting the imposition of state rule over territories they control. We focus on the rights of warlords: subnational strongmen who seek autonomy within geographically demarcated territories, but not secession or control of the state itself. We argue that behind the resistance to state-building lies a twofold question of legitimate authority: the authority of states to consolidate power within their own internationally recognized borders and the authority of warlords to resist that expansion, by force if necessary, when it threatens social order and the protection of basic rights. This article draws on just war theory to develop a set of conditions under which such resistance may be justified, explores the argument’s practical implications for state-building under the tutelage of third parties (e.g., the United Nations), and demonstrates its empirical relevance through an application to Afghanistan. Read more.
American Political Science Review / Volume 110, Issue 3 August 2016, pp. 428-440