How to Engage Armed Groups? Reviewing Options and Strategies for Third Parties

Armed groups pose a severe challenge to current peace- and state-building processes. Their degree of dispersion, influence, and effect on local and international politics make it necessary to consider ways and strategies for coping and interacting with them. The article assesses and reviews the contribution of specific options, their suitability, and their applicability regarding particular types of  actors. First, it delineates options for dealing with armed groups based on three perspectives: realist, institutionalist, and constructivist. Second, the article matches these perspectives with the capabilities of international third parties. Finally, the paper reflects on the difficulties that arise from the plurality of different types of armed groups as well as of external actors.