Post-Conflict Governance: From Rubble to Reconstruction

Global debate and media awareness of the complex issues involved with post-conflict governance are at an all-time high. With the reconstruction of the Balkans still leaving much left undone, the United States and much of the international community are seeking to balance continued intervention in Afghanistan with the emerging challenge of rebuilding Iraq.  In a period of post-conflict recovery, the government’s interaction with its citizens must shift from coercion to cooperation; its economics must transition from recession to reconstruction; and its political system must transform from repression to representation. But identifying and implementing the most effective way to make this vision a reality is a task of epic proportions. Establishing an effective public administration in the wake of conflict often feels like a desperate search for calm after a storm. Worse yet, rebuilding governments in war-torn and impoverished nations is often more perilous than the storm itself. Despite the enormity of the challenge, the global community should adhere to post-conflict governance plans that are both disciplined and dynamic. While we must identify “best practices” and key drivers of growth that have been effective in past reconstructions, the culture and history of each nation should also shape its post-conflict governance.