ABSTRACT

Contemporary insurgencies continue to be relegated by academics and policymakers to the category of mere criminal activity; as a result, the responses are largely those of regulation and law enforcement. Many insurgent groups or rebels both engage in predatory behavior and are responsible for massive violations of human rights. Scrambles for diamonds shaped the character of warfare in Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Angola in the 1990s, and international responses seek to address predatory behavior. Protocols such as those arising from the Kimberley Process seek to regulate the trade in these “blood diamonds.”1

Equally important are efforts to regulate the trade in the small arms, the portable, easily tradable, and cheap weapons that rebels often buy with these looted resources. This phenomenon created the impetus for the United Nations Global Conference on Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons, which was held in 2001.2 While these responses are important, the emphasis upon the criminality of the groups and the emphasis upon regulatory and law enforcement responses has inherent limitations, particularly as international responses remain state-centric and biased toward state sovereignty.