Grasping the Financing and Mobilization Cost of Armed Groups: A New Perspective on Conflict Dynamics

This paper approaches conflict financing as a combination of available revenue sources and the cost to start and maintain armed conflict. The paper therefore goes beyond conceptualizations of conflict financing that only look at the total available revenue of armed groups. Based on recent small arms research, the paper sketches a tool to estimate the mobilization cost of armed groups with the objective to establish data points for barriers to entry into armed conflict and the cost of competition during armed conflict. The paper argues that what matters in conflict financing is to identify the financing and mobilization costs together, and if an armed group can pay for the type of conflict required to reaching its objective. The paper contributes to an evolving literature on the feasibility of conflict and provides a new perspective on conflict dynamics with implications for peace processes, peacebuilding, and policy against conflict financing.