Whether in the Balkans, Afghanistan or the Arab Spring, pro-government militias have an important impact on conflict, on civilian well being and on the prospects for peace. The pro-government militia (PGM) project is jointly led by Sabine Carey and Neil Mitchell (University College London). It aims to increase our understanding of these groups and make their relationship to government more transparent. An important part of the project is the Pro-Government Militias Database (PGMD), which was initially funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), UK, RES-062-23-0363. Additional support was received from the Working Group “Human Rights, Governance and Conflict” at the Centre for the Study of Civil War (CSCW) at the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO). The project is now funded by the ERC Starting Grant No 336019.

Download the data here ›

Access the online database here ›

The PGMD codes information on pro-government militas for all countries from 1981 to 2007. We expect our database to be most useful for examining patterns across countries – although with the amount of information gathered on the groups, we hope the database will provide a useful starting point for country-specific studies as well. Under the new project, we are currently updating the data to include more information on ethnicity and termination of PGMs and extend the coverage to 2014.

Dataset Highlights:

  • Locates pro-government militias

  • Spans across the globe from 1981 to 2007

  • Identifies links between groups and governments

  • Identifies various characteristics of PGMs

Advance notice of updated PGMD version 2.0

We are currently working on updating the PGMD version 2.0. Version 2.0 will cover the years 1981 to 2014 and will include new variables on how PGMs were terminated, how they were created, as well as more specific information on ethnic membership and ethnic targets. You can view a DRAFT of the codebook for the updated PGMD v2.0 here.

PLEASE NOTE that this codebook will continue to change until the release of PGMD version 2.0, which is planned for 2019.

Pro-government militias guidebook

The Pro-government militias guidebook provides easily summaries of the groups’ key characteristics. This encyclopaedia brings together information from the PGMD and systematic and structured search of relevant research and reports.

Advance notice of new dataset on Pro-Government Militias during Counterinsurgency Wars, 1945-2007

Sabine Carey, Adam Scharpf and Neil Mitchell are currently collecting data on all pro-government militia groups that fought in counterinsurgency wars between 1945 and 2007. Augmenting the existing PGMD, the new dataset offers systematic information on informal and semi-official militia groups actively involved in internal conflicts. It codes temporal information on the presence of these groups, their government links, and the primary recruitment pool of their members. 

Typology of pro-government militias

Sabine Carey & Neil Mitchell. 2015. "The Monopoly of Violence and the Puzzling Survival of Pro-Governmnent Militias." Submitted to Annual Review of Political Science.

In this paper we develop a typology based on the link of the pro-government militia to the state and to society as a device to capture variations among these groups. We use the typology to explore insights from this emerging literature on the causes, consequences, and puzzling survival of pro-government militias, their implications for security and human rights, and to generate open questions for further research.

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Papers & Publications