The liberal dilemmas of a people-centred approach to state-building

The article explores the dilemmas of providing security assistance to post-conflict states. It argues that when used as a strategy for intervention, SSR exposes the inherent contradictions of liberal peace-building. The article focuses on the Weberian state monopoly versus other—hybrid or non-state—forms of security and justice provision. It presents the background for the discussion and suggests that as a strategy for intervention, the choice is not simply between a top-down ‘imposition’ of a universal state model and a bottom-up ‘working with what is there’ approach. It is also a choice between direct and indirect forms of rule. This makes the dilemma real for liberal-minded practitioners and observers.