Peacebuilding and reconstruction ine aftermath of conflict the case of liberia and sierra leone

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  • 1. Peacebuilding and Reconstruction in aftermath of conflict – The Case of Liberiaand Sierra LeoneSupport for peace building and reconstruction: State rebuilding after state collapse oftenrequires a strong support for peace building and reconstruction measures. Peace in thiscontext has often been interpreted as mere absence of war and state rebuilding is oftenseen only in terms of physical reconstruction. While physical reconstruction may be anecessary departure point for state rebuilding, the defining characteristic of staterebuilding from a human security approach is the presence of holistic security and amodel of conflict management, which emphasises the fundamentals of military security,democratisation and consensus building, development, economic reform, human rightsand human dignity for the citizens to engage their rulers. Therefore, although the conventional wisdom is to ignore it, the security requiredin the immediate aftermath of conflict might also require higher rather than lowersecurity expenditure to enable the state and citizens cope with the impact of conflict -rehabilitating refugees and the internally displaced, providing for a secure, safe andenabling environment in which development initiatives can succeed and reintegratingformer combatants into society and economy. In situations where conditions of povertyprevail after post war conflict, it is reasonable to predict a correlation between the lack ofdevelopment opportunities in terms of direct income generation to survivors and anincrease in criminality and conflict. For policy makers, especially international donors who just want to “move themoney” because of the domestic pressure from disaster management and relief agencies,there is always the pressing need to construe their role in terms of immediate restorationof peace and stability, rather than security and development through the promotion ofcommon values and the rule of law. The concentration on elections and electionsmonitoring in say Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria in recent times gave an impressionthat what mattered most was the election, not democracy nor a recognition that electionsare not enough to guarantee democracy and development. Experience has since shownthat while there are immediate tasks that must be addressed in terms of peace buildingand reconstruction in every conflict situation - disaster relief and management,repatriation and reintegration of refugees and reduction in the proliferation of small armsand clearance of explosives, these are not the most successful ingredients of a successfulpeace building strategy. To promote sustainable security and peace building strategies therefore - Africanleaders and international development agencies must take a comprehensive look at peacebuilding and reconstruction strategies treating them as a continuum with short term (reliefand emergency aid and creating a secure and enabling environment); medium term (peacesupport operations) and long term (reconstruction, democracy & development)components in an integrated manner. Donor countries should be encouraged to fostergreater coherence amongst their own policies at an inter-agency level, as well as withintheir own regional structures (such as EU, OECD, etc). A good example as we pointedout in the preceding section is the fact that arms sales from developed countries is often atvariance with the emphasis the same countries place on conflict prevention and securitysector governance. 1
  • 2. Equally, in this respect, there is a need for stronger cooperation between theBretton Woods institutions, the UN Systems and other multi and bi-lateral developmentagencies as well as independent development institutions to reduce the overzealous focuson achieving fiscal discipline and macro-economic stability at the expense of efforts toprotect social spending. Donor responses have often involved conditionalities relating toautomatic decreases in military spending and reductions of military and other securityforces with no attention paid to the expensive nature of security and the objective securitythreats that each country faces. Especially in post conflict situations, this realizationshould inform international attitudes towards security sector transformation on the onehand, and post conflict reconstruction on the other. Third, it is extremely important that international institutions should seize themomentum provided by the weak capacity of the state to align external assistance withlocal needs and efforts, not an opportunity to impose received wisdom and new theoriesof development. This is extremely important in the context of recent claims that NEPADis Africa owned - a claim that is rejected by many Africans. Where state institutionalcapacity is weak, an immense burden of responsibility is placed on IFIs and developmentagencies in which real dialogue with the people and wide consultations underscorewhatever actions are taken. Finally, international donors cannot ignore the internationalcontext in their response to peace building and reconstruction efforts. How, for example,has the often convoluted linkage between trans-national corporations, proliferation ofarms and promotion of neo-liberal globalising trends by the industrial world underminethe success of security and development reforms in countries emerging out of conflict,especially within the context of an unstable region in which domino effect is real ratherthan imagined. These are some of the issues that are central to any discussion of the policy leveron peace building and reconstruction efforts and the extent to which the guidelinedocument considers them critically would determine the possibilities of success thatmight accompany critical intervention.The Challenge of strengthening the territorial state: As has been argued above, thisthinking itself is a product of the state-centric notions of security that dominatedtraditional thinking in the cold war era. Since the state is increasingly seen asunrepresentative and illegitimate in Africa however, are there conditions under which warmight be seen to be a legitimate means of removing regime types that promote conflictsand in which leaders have encroached upon common pool resources. To this end, somequestions might suffice in any consideration of complex political situations rather thanfocus exclusively on state monopoly of means of coercion. This is not to suggest thatstates do not have legitimate needs for security which might necessitate legitimateprocurement and monopoly of means of coercion, but this has to be demonstrated toensure that security is treated as common public good, not just regime good. It maytherefore be necessary to consider: • Under which circumstances, if any, is war necessary to remove bad governments? That is how do we distinguish between justifiable rebellion and needless conflict? • How is regional economic and political co-operation built between and among states to address the pathology of militarism? 2
  • 3. • How can state-centric definitions of security be de-emphasised, and the role of civil society in peace building increased in the quest for common values? • How is democratic control of the military to be built in states undergoing political transition or moving from war to peace - through parliamentary oversight, effective institutions of governance and genuine interaction between the military and the rest of society?Acknowledging the need to ask these questions should help to address some of the policychallenges posed for conflict transformation and security sector reform within theNEPAD context and subject state monopoly of violence to international and regionalchecks. Although there is evidence to suggest that African leaders and their internationalpartners now accept the argument about broadening the agenda, but the commitment tothe mutually reinforcing interaction between the values of democracy, equity andsustainability still remain subordinate to the core need for macro-economic stability andintegration into the international political economy in the NEPAD document. This is whymany are still suspicious of the African leaders and their development partners’commitment to a human security approach in spite of the new rhetoric about localownership and social capital.Promoting social coherence through civil society development and multi-culturaltoleranceIf peace-building is taken as the sum total of activities that will support peace making andconflict transformation: demobilisation, re-structuring of the local security system -police and the military; resettlement of refugees and the internally displaced persons;removal of dangerous weapons - mines and other unexploded firearms, reconstruction ofshattered infrastructure and humanitarian and disaster relief - very few still advocate thatthis could be done with the exclusion of civil society. Indeed, even African leaders andinternational development agencies now see civil society as key to the successfulimplementation of these various aspects of post-conflict peace building process. Indiscussing rights based approach to governance and security sector transformation, localownership and development of social capital rests with the civil society, but it isimportant to place this within the context of developing institutional mechanisms for themanagement of diversity and difference and incorporating international human rightsframework into domestic law. Hence, the rights of the people to their resources shouldnot be compromised at the altar of encouraging foreign direct investment, especiallywhere this undermines environmental security. Since states are usually products of war and rampage, it might sound far-fetchedto base the quest for tolerance on the notion of reclaiming the militarised mind throughthe creation of structures capable of mediating conflict between belligerent parties.Perhaps, an explanation of this construction is necessary here. It is suggested that themilitary option now prevalent in several parts of the African continent is the inevitableconsequence of the acute nature of internal contradictions and the almost total absence ofdemocratic institutions that can assist in the management of deep-rooted conflicts. It was assumed in policy and development circles that support for neo-liberaldemocracy will help achieve this objective, hence there was the enthusiasm for 3
  • 4. democracy assistance and ‘good governance’ in the early 1990s and donor countriesmade some efforts to move economic assistance away from former concerns aboutstimulating economic growth to an emphasis on political objectives, including support forprocesses of democratisation and building of civil society. Although the above represented a shift from the days of the super-powerideological rivalry, even this shift in the leadership’s thinking and IFIs’ assistance hasconcentrated primarily on the reform of the public sector and involvement of the ‘civilsociety’ to the extent that it promotes the neo-liberal paradigm, not on an alternativevision of bottom-up reforms driven by societal consensus. The fact that many of thetransitions of the last decade in Africa now approximate to - at best electoral democraciesand at worst elected dictatorships, has raised new questions on how to deepen thedemocratic content of current reforms in a process oriented, participatory and accountablemanner. At every level, the idea of constitutionalising democratising polities that havelargely functioned as ‘virtual’ democracies along multifaceted lines is taking shape. Today, the fact that the struggle for reconstituting the African state is taking placein no fewer than twenty African states in Angola, Kenya, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Coted’Ivoire, Swaziland and Lesotho, to mention but a few, underscores a paradigmatic shiftfrom constitutionality to constitutionalism, a situation where constitutions are now seenas tools for building bridges between the state and civil society, a social compact basedupon a foundation of consensus among the constituent elements within the polity andbetween them and the state in the quest for common value systems. What has to beemphasised however for the purpose of NEPAD and human security is the importance ofan organic link between the constitution as a rule of law instrument incorporatinginternational human rights framework and primarily concerned with restraininggovernment excesses, and the constitution as a legitimisation of power structures andrelations based on a broad social consensus and the values in diverse societies. In short, ifNEPAD is to promote the mutually reinforcing role of development, security anddemocracy, the task today is largely between bridging the gap between “juristicconstitutionalism” and “political and socio-economic constitutionalism” in the search forcommon core values if the ‘New Africa’ espoused in the NEPAD document is to havemeaning and be accountable to its citizens. The core issues around values in NEPAD can only be addressed in the context ofprinciples and values to which all Africans willingly subscribe. Values of representation,ownership, accessibility to all levels of government, accountability, openness andcollective responsibility. CSSDCA has been doing a lot of work on developing aconsensus driven value systems which is what would be the subject of the peer reviewmechanism. NEPAD is also developing a similar mechanism in preparation for theDurban summit of the African Union. While this is welcome by all, the scepticism thathas attended the search for common values to be promoted across Africa has beeninformed by the anti-democratic and reprehensible behaviour of some of the leaders whoare at the forefront of the NEPAD campaign and their total contempt for some of thesupposed values to which they have committed themselves. In spite of this generalscepticism, constitutionalism as a social compact remains the best route for forging thekind of value system and reorientation that can deepen our democracy in order to preventconflict and build peace. 4
  • 5. Building assets that provide security against disasters and economic shocksConventionally, the way most development agencies have promoted the building ofassets against disasters and economic shocks has been to focus on macro-economicstability strategies like Structural adjustment reforms, electoral democracies and supportof measures that seek to provide the enabling environment for foreign direct investmentand the global integration of the economy - a mutual pursuit of political and economicliberalisation. This is the fundamental principle guiding the NEPAD document. So far,the logic of trickle down economics has failed to produce an integrated world economy inwhich all zones are winners. Indeed, as Caroline Thomas and Peter Wilkin argue, In the process of globalisation, the continent (Africa) has quite literally been left behind in terms of the distribution of the spoils of the process. The promised advantages of economic restructuring, as hailed by the IMF, World Bank and individual developed countries, have not been borne out. Foreign investment fails to flow in; debt burdens continue; commodity prices fluctuate; environmental degradation proceeds…and industrialisation fails to occur. (Thomas & Wilkin: 1998).This clearly contradicts the core assumption of globalisation that wealth wouldautomatically be created when the free market gains universal acceptance in the world.By arguing that the way to build assets against shocks is not via the creation of local selfsufficiency, but national economies should concentrate on what they can contribute to theworld economy, globalisation ignores the comparative advantage of the North, locksAfrican states further into relative powerlessness by creating conditions for conflictwhich further weakens the mediatory role of the states. Instead, it empowers those eliteswithin the state who can form part of the convoluted network in business and governmentcapable of acting independently of the juridical state. The fallout of this globalising trendis the unregulated trade in mineral resources, proliferation of arms and narcotics and theillicit trade in narcotics all of which ultimately undermine food security, environmentalsecurity and the security of the individual - all factors responsible for conflict today. Ithas also helped in deepening the rural-urban divide, fostered inter-generational strifeoccasioned by youth frustration and exacerbated the scourge of refugees and theinternally displaced, all of which have moved the hapless below the poverty line andmoved them closer to violence and conflict. In my view therefore, the greatest assets against shocks and disasters ultimatelylie with the development of human resources, better management of natural resourceendowment and respect for local ownership of the reform agenda whether in determiningthe role of the State or in arriving at the most effective poverty inducing mechanisms. Infairness, the NEPAD document pays some attention to this, but only within the context offree and unregulated market. Hence, it is also useful to examine and analyse individualsituations on their merit, rather than assume that the market is God. This is of course notto suggest that market has no role in reforming states structures. It is to say that there areno universal models of the market as providing the best assets against shocks anddisasters, hence leaders and donor agencies must learn from their own experiences of themarket, security and public sector reforms in formulating realistic policies that are notdriven by dogma, even as they admit that certain assumptions undergird their work basedon their stated values and principles. 5