||Pablo Policzer, Neither Terrorists nor Freedom Fighters, Working Paper #5, February 2005.
"While non-state armed groups have always existed, to this day there is no clear consensus on how to describe or define them, or on what should be expected from them. On the one hand, the humanitarian and human rights communities struggle with ways to bring armed groups into the basic normative frameworks that bind states. On the other hand, the "War on Terror" is premised on the idea that armed groups cannot be held to the same standard as states, and should instead, be simply defeated. This paper argues that the humanitarian and human rights communities cannot hope to change the terms of the "War on Terror" debate without a reasonable consensus themselves on what constitutes an armed group. Such a consensus has proven elusive, and most of the current working definitions do not accurately reflect the kinds of groups with which humanitarian and human rights agencies are forced to contend in conflict zones around the world. The paper proposes an alternative working definition, which better reflects the diversity of groups we observe." (See Armed Groups Project web site.)