In combination with the Lunchtime Seminar that followed on the 22 October, this event dealt with the work of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) and, more specifically, with their research project on NGO engagement with non-state armed groups (NSAGs).
This event took the form of a consultative expert workshop, in which the SWP researchers presented their theoretical and definitional frameworks, engaging Geneva peacebuilding actors and getting feedback on their work, particularly in relation to the categorization of NSAGs. The latter was considered by representatives of academia and the NGO community overly neat – for example one of the distinctions made was between ‘politically' and ‘economically' motivated groups, a line which is notoriously hard to draw.
The question of ‘de facto authorities', such as Somaliland, was also raised – whilst these are not recognized states, it is inappropriate, analytically and politically, to lump them together with rebels and warlords. The SWP representatives pointed out that their ideal-types were not final theories, but precisely intended to be a starting point for such critical discussions and hypothesis-building processes.