From counterinsurgency and containment, through negotiation and mediation, to integration and cooptation, state and international approaches to address non-state armed actors face significant obstacles. On the other hand, official, state-based actors, specialized non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and private actors—including elder statesmen, influential international figures, and retired high political officials—have developed independent conflict resolution approaches, leveraging their non-state status to fill the gap left by states and international organizations.
By using their dependence on a positive public image, NGOs and private actors have been able to persuade some armed actors to change their behavior. Coordinated approaches between different actors utilizing their respective strengths may help achieve specific goals and sustainable resolutions where non-state armed actors are involved. The contributions of specialized NGOs and private actors are worth considering in three particular fields: i) supplementing official policy; ii) taking on responsibility for distinct policy components; and iii) developing policy and early warning.