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Published in the International Journal of Drug Policy.

The long-term legacies of civil war economies — often characterised by widespread illicit economic activities and the proliferation of criminal and quasi-criminal networks — pose significant challenges to achieving sustainable post-war settlements.

This article surveys predominant strategies to address war economies in peace processes for countries emerging from war. The author identifies three prevailing approaches — criminalisation, co-option, and neglect— and discusses trade-offs associated with each.

While there is no clear consensus on which approach is most likely to succeed and most countries will require a balanced combination of all three, it is increasingly clear that peace agreements that fail to sufficiently incorporate the perspectives of communities dependent on illicit economies and to account for how illicit economies shape national and subnational political settlements are more likely to produce unstable post-war regimes in the medium to long-run.