Violent non-state actor

Groups independent of governments which use violence / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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In international relations, violent non-state actors (VNSAs), also known as non-state armed actors or non-state armed groups (NSAGs), are individuals or groups that are wholly or partly independent of governments and which threaten or use violence to achieve their goals.[1][2]

Contras in Nicaragua, 1987
Flag of the Lord's Resistance Army

VNSAs vary widely in their goals, size, and methods. They may include narcotics cartels, popular liberation movements, religious and ideological organizations, corporations (e.g. private military contractors), self-defence militia, and paramilitary groups established by state governments to further their interests.[1][3]

While some VNSAs oppose governments, others are allied to them.[1] Some VNSAs are organized as paramilitary groups, adopting methods and structure similar to those of state armed forces. Others may be informally structured and use violence in other ways, such as kidnapping, using improvised explosive devices, or hacking into computer systems.