Security Sector Reform and Post-Conflict Peacebuilding

Military and police forces play a crucial role in the long-term success of political, economic and cultural rebuilding efforts in post-conflict societies.  Yet, while charged with the long-term task of providing a security environment conducive to rebuilding wartorn societies, internal security structures tend to lack civilian and democratic control, internal cohesion and effectiveness, and public credibility.  This book draws upon the experiences and analyses of an international group of academics and practitioners, many of whom have direct experiences with SSR programmes.  They examine the role of external actors, as well as their interactions, in meeting the challenge of sustainable post-conflict SSR.  A wide variety of case studies from Europe, Africa, Asia and Latin America put these discussions into regional and global contexts.  Case countries include: Macedonia, Bosnia, Russia, Georgia, Northern Ireland, El Salvador, Guatemala, Colombia, Chile, Haiti, Cambodia, East Timor, Afghanistan.

The Road to Peace in Ireland

This case-study is one of a series produced by participants in an ongoing Berghof research
project on transitions from violence to peace (‘Resistance/Liberation Movements and Transition to Politics’). The project’s overall aim is to learn from the experience of those in resistance or liberation movements who have used violence in their struggle but have also engaged politically during the conflict and in any peace process. Recent experience around the world has demonstrated that reaching political settlement in protracted social conflict always eventually needs the involvement of such movements. Our aim here is to discover how, from a non-state perspective, such political development is handled, what is the relationship between political and military strategies and tactics, and to learn more about how such movements (often sweepingly and simplistically bundled under the label of nonstate armed groups) contribute to the transformation of conflict and to peacemaking. We can then use that experiential knowledge (1) to offer support to other movements who might be considering such a shift of strategy, and (2) to help other actors (states and international) to understand more clearly how to engage meaningfully with such movements to bring about political progress and peaceful settlement.

The Role of Local Business in Peacebuilding

International attention has turned in recent years towards the critical, some would argue decisive, role that economic factors play in driving and perpetuating contemporary violent conflicts. A key aspect of this debate is the behaviour and impact of the private sector. Understandably, the discussions (at least on the NGO side) have largely centred on Transnational Corporations (TNCs), particularly those from the extractive sector and most often in the context of their negative impact on conflict. The well documented cases of Colombia and Nigeria, amongst others, illustrate the importance both of understanding these impacts and of acting to ensure the obvious potential benefits of natural resources accrue to societies as a whole rather than privileged elites. However, framing the ‘business and conflict’ debate in such a one-dimensional manner risks ignoring not only the immense diversity of the private sector but also the potentially constructive role businesses of various sizes and types can play in addressing conflict. It is one of the ironies of conflict transformation theory and practice that despite the evidence that local business has an important part to play, and a strong interest, in supporting peacebuilding initiatives, significantly less effort has been directed towards analysing and facilitating its role than for that of TNCs. This article aims to start addressing this gap by exploring four key questions: why to engage local business, how to do it, what form engagement can take, and with whom it is most likely to succeed. We base our propositions on involvement in and analysis of a substantive number of research, advocacy and consultancy projects. While we work from a broad collection of examples of potential business roles in conflict and peacebuilding, the cases are illustrative, and more systematic research and testing of hypotheses will be necessary.

Fixing Failed States: A Framework for Rebuilding a Fractured World

The international community has struggled without much success to remedy the problem of failed states. Meanwhile, 40 or 50 countries around the world — from Sudan and Somalia to Kosovo and East Timor — remain in a crisis of governance. In this impressive book, Ghani, a former Afghan finance minister, and Lockhart, who has worked at the World Bank and the United Nations, assess the missteps and offer a new framework for coordinated action. They argue that international responses have failed because they have been piecemeal and have proceeded with little understanding of what states need to do in the modern world system to connect citizens to global flows. They advocate a “citizen-based approach.” State-building strategies would be organized around a “double compact”: between country leaders and the international community, on the one hand, and country leaders and citizens, on the other. The book also proposes methods for the generation of comparative data on state capacity — a “sovereignty index” — to be annually reported to the UN and the World Bank. Ultimately, this study offers a surprisingly optimistic vision. The fact that so many disadvantaged countries have made dramatic economic and political transitions over the last decade suggests that developmental pathways do exist — if only the lessons and practical knowledge of local circumstances can be matched to coordinated and sustained international efforts. The authors provide a practical framework for achieving these ends, supporting their case with first-hand examples of struggling territories such as Afghanistan, Sudan, Kosovo and Nepal as well as the world’s success stories–Singapore, Ireland, and even the American South.

Religion, Pragmatic Fundamentalism and the Transformation of the Northern Ireland Conflict

Since 11 September 2001, the religious dimension of conflict has been the focus of increasing attention. In The Clash of Civilizations, Huntington has identified the West in religious–cultural terms, as Christian with a dominant democratic culture emphasizing tolerance, moderation and consensus. The persistence of conflict in Northern Ireland among `White’ Protestant and Catholic Christians undermines this simplistic argument and demands a more subtle understanding of the role of religion and fundamentalism in contemporary conflict. Modernization theory — which is echoed among some theorists of globalization — had predicted the declining importance of religion as the world became industrialized and increasingly interconnected. This is echoed by those who argue that the Northern Ireland conflict is `ethno-national’ and dismiss the role of religion. On the other hand, others have claimed that the conflict is religious and stress the role of Protestant fundamentalism. This article draws on new evidence from Northern Ireland of the complex and subtle ways in which religion impacts on the conflict there, incorporating insights about the pragmatism of fundamentalist Protestants and how religious actors are contributing to conflict transformation. This analysis leads to three broader conclusions about understanding conflicts with religious dimensions. First, the complexity of religion must be understood, and this includes a willingness to recognize the adaptability of fundamentalisms to particular contexts. Second, engaging with fundamentalists and taking their grievances seriously opens up possibilities for conflict transformation. Third, governments and religious actors within civil society can play complementary roles in constructing alternative (religious) ideologies and structures as part of a process of transformation. In a world in which the impact of religion is persistent, engaging with the religious dimension is a vital part of a broader-based strategy for dealing with conflict.

Context, Timing and the Dynamics of Transitional Justice: A Historical Perspective

Legal process is invoked by supporters of transitional justice as necessary if not a precondition for societies affected by mass violence to transition into a new period of peace and stability. In this paper, we question the presumption that trials and/or truth commissions should be an early response to initiating a transitional justice process. We conducted a multi-factorial, qualitative analysis of seven case studies in countries impacted by mass violence and repression—Argentina, Cambodia, Guatemala, Timor-Leste, Northern Ireland, Sierra Leone, and South Africa. What emerges is a fuller appreciation of the dynamic system in which transitional justice interventions occur. Each system component may influence the outcome of these interventions. We offer principles that can guide institutional development, scholarship, and policy prescriptions in the area of transitional justice.

A Bottom-Up Approach to Transformative Justice in Northern Ireland

This article explores community-based restorative justice projects run by political exprisoners and former combatants in Northern Ireland, initiatives which are dealing with everyday crime and conflict in local communities in a period of transition. It is argued that restorative justice can act as a facilitator, both for individuals within the community and between communities and the state, when violence-supporting norms are expected to be replaced by nonviolent approaches to conflict and its resolution. The article also argues for a greater role for criminological approaches to crime, punishment and justice within transitions, recognising the strengths of criminology to address underlying causes of continued violence in postconflict settings. In particular, this article investigates attempts by these initiatives to build bridges between historically estranged communities and the police, and argues for the possibility of restorative justice becoming a catalyst for transformative justice during times of rapid social change.

Civil War Peace Agreement Implementation and State Capacity

Negotiated civil war terminations differ from their interstate war counterparts in that one side must disarm and cease to exist as a fighting entity. While termination through military victory provides a relatively more enduring peace, many civil wars end with peace agreements signed after negotiations. However, research has shown that the implementation of civil war peace agreements is difficult and prone to collapse. Often these failures are followed by recurrence of the conflict. In some cases, the agreements break down before key provisions are implemented. This article adds to this topic by focusing on the role of state capacity in peace agreement success. We argue that peace agreements and state capacity are necessary but not sufficient conditions for sustainable peace. The article employs a case study approach to explore the importance of state capacity in implementing civil war peace agreements. The role of third-party interventions is also considered. The cases (United Kingdom-Northern Ireland, Indonesia-Aceh, Burundi, Mali, and Somalia) include 14 peace agreements that vary by war type (secessionist or control over government), type of agreement (comprehensive or partial), levels of state capacity (high or low), and peace success (success, partial or failure), and each experienced third-party involvement in the peace process.