Pro-Government Militias Website

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Operational Definition of a Pro-Government Militia (PGM)
We define a pro-government militia as a group that

  1. 1. is identified by the source as pro-government or sponsored by the government (national or sub-national),
  2. 2. is identified as not part of the regular security forces,
  3. 3. is armed and
  4. 4. has some level of organisation.


Criterion 1:
The group is identified by the source as pro-government or sponsored by the government, either national or sub-national. Evidence that a group does not oppose the government or that the group shares an enemy with the government is not sufficient for it to be considered pro-government. Our focus is on national governments and the individual ministerial or institutional links between the government and the militia, but if a group is identified as allied with or backed by a sub-national government and the national (e.g. federal) government is neutral in its position towards this group, it is included as a PGM. However, if sources describe the national (e.g. federal) government as opposed to this group, then it is not classified as a PGM. We focus on domestic groups, meaning pro-government groups that are active within their own borders. Groups can be sponsored, trained or originate from other countries, but they need to be linked to the government of the territory they are based and active in. For private military companies, this means that they are recorded as being present in the country they are operating in, i.e. the country for which they contracted to operate on the government’s side.

Criterion 2:
The group is not the regular state security force as described in government information or other sources on armed forces and police, although the group may operate with the regular state security forces, or even be composed of members of the security forces organized clandestinely as an unofficial or informal group (death squads). This relationship with the regular forces might include, in addition to sharing of personnel as in the above example, information sharing, joint operations or training. Not identified as PGM are therefore the police, regular military forces or special units that are part of the military.

Criterion 3:
The group is armed and equipped for violence, but does not have to commit violence to be included. This criterion is not limited to firearms; some groups are equipped with machetes or clubs.

Criterion 4:
The group has some evidence of organisation (for example an identifiable leader, or name, or a geographical, ethnic, religious or political basis) to exclude a “flash” or spontaneous mob. When an existing group fails to fulfill any of these criteria, then the group is coded as terminated as a PGM according to our definition.