Reflection Group "Monopoly for the use of force 2.0?"




  • Agents and Patterns of Security and War

Questions are increasingly being raised about the classic idea of the state’s "monopoly of force" or "monopoly of violence", i.e. the imperative for security services to be provided exclusively by public institutions. After all, in many places private security firms have become a mainstay of security in our cities. In other places, national or local police units have arrangements with vigilantes, self-defence militia, gangs and criminal organisations. In fact, the state's monopoly over the use of force is increasingly turning into an illusion.
It is against this background that the Friedrich Ebert Foundation decided to set up the Reflection Group "Monopoly for the use of force 2.0?", bringing together around twenty recognised experts from all over the world. BICC is an active participant in the project, which has so far included two Reflection Group meetings, in Singapore and Berlin.
As a first step the group turned its attention to relations between state and non-state security actors in selected countries. A series of background papers, dealing either with general concepts or concrete cases, discussed the empirical evidence for the extent and potential consequences of this spreading "privatisation" or "denationalisation" of security in a number of regions (including Latin Amerika, Central Asia, South Pacific). Security "beyond the state" can assume a plethora of forms, ranging from security services being commercialised by the use of private companies to the rise of protection rackets and organised crime, vigilantism and traditional arrangements for conflict resolution. Moreover, it is not always necessarily a question of direct challenges to public authorities but, in many cases, "hybrid" arrangements interwoven with state institutions.
The stance to be taken towards non-state actors employing violence is controversial, as discussions within the Reflection Group have shown. To advance the debate, BICC has proposed a more open analysis of the security and insecurity produced in various settings, i.e. an approach that is not limited by a normative preference for state actors.

Project Leader

Project Team


  • Friedrich Ebert Foundation

Duration of project

2014 until 2016