Building a Republican Peace: Stabilizing States after War

Although peacebuilders do not operate from a common template, liberal values so define their activities that their efforts can be called “liberal peacebuilding.” Many postconflict operations aspire to create a state that contains the rule of law, markets, and democracy. Growing evidence suggests, however, that liberal peacebuilding is re-creating the conditions of conflict; states emerging from war do not have the necessary institutions or civic culture to absorb the pressures associated with political and market competition. In recognition of these problems and dangers, there is an emerging call for greater attention to the state and institutionalization before liberalization. These critiques, and lessons learned from recent operations, point to an alternative-republican peacebuilding. Drawing from republican political theory, this article argues that the republican principles of deliberation, constitutionalism, and representation can help states after war address the threats to stability that derive from arbitrary power and factional conflict and, in the process, develop some legitimacy. Republican peacebuilding is not only good for postconflict states; it also is appropriate for international peacebuilders, who also can exercise arbitrary power.

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