Financing War or Facilitating Peace? The Impact of Rebel Drug Trafficking on Peace Negotiations in Colombia and Myanmar

Journal Article January 30, 2016, Studies in Conflict & Terrorism

Rebel involvement in drug trafficking is broadly found to prolong and intensify civil wars. Being an illicit good with strong demand, high profit margins, limited barriers to entry, and few interdiction opportunities, narcotic drugs disproportionately benefit rebel groups as a source of funding in civil wars. Furthermore, drug trafficking is believed to prolong civil wars by creating war economies that benefit rebel groups, making them reluctant to engage in peace negotiations. However, recent peace agreements suggest that drug trafficking can in some cases be used to “buy off” rebel leaders, whereas other insurgents willingly relinquish this source of funding. This article compares attempts at conflict resolution in Colombia and Myanmar, focusing on the impact drug trafficking by Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) and United Wa State Army has on contemporary peace negotiations.

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