Tuesday, 17 July 2012


An insurgency is an armed rebellion against a constituted authority (for example, an authority recognized as such by the United Nations) when those taking part in the rebellion are not recognized as belligerents. An insurgency can be fought via counter-insurgency warfare, and may also be opposed by measures to protect the population, and by political and economic actions of various kinds aimed at undermining the insurgents' claims against the incumbent regime. An "insurgency" may include, but not necessarily use, guerrilla warfare.

Not all rebellions are insurgencies. There have been many cases of non-violent rebellions, using civil resistance, as in the People Power Revolution in the Philippines in the 1980s that ousted President Marcos and the Egyptian Revolution of 2011. Where a revolt takes the form of armed rebellion, it may not be viewed as an insurgency if a state of belligerency exists between one or more sovereign states and rebel forces. For example, during the American Civil War, the Confederate States of America was not recognized as a sovereign state, but it was recognized as a belligerent power, and thus Confederate warships were given the same rights as United States warships in foreign ports.

When insurgency is used to describe a movement's unlawfulness by virtue of not being authorized by or in accordance with the law of the land, its use is neutral. However when it is used by a state or another authority under threat, "insurgency" often also carries an implication that the rebels' cause is illegitimate, whereas those rising up will see the authority itself as being illegitimate.

A variety of terms, none precisely defined, all fall under the category of insurgency: rebellion, uprisings, etc. The value of the formal models (discussed below) is to have a taxonomy to categorize insurgencies. No two insurgencies are identical. The basis of the insurgency can be political, economic, religious, or ethnic, or a combination of factors.

Sometimes there may be one or more simultaneous insurgencies (multipolar) occurring in a country. The Iraq insurgency is one example of a recognized government versus multiple groups of insurgents. Other historic insurgencies, such as the Russian Civil War, have been multipolar rather than a straightforward model made up of two sides. During the Angolan Civil War there were two main sides: MPLA and UNITA. At the same time, there was a another separatist movement for the independence of the Cabinda region headed up by FLEC.

Multipolarity extends the definition of insurgency to situations where there is no recognized authority, as in the Somali Civil War, especially the period from 1998 to 2006, where it broke into quasi-autonomous smaller states, fighting among one another in changing alliances.