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Responsible reconstruction after war: meeting local needs for building peace


Contemporary peacebuilding operations are often mandated to rebuild ‘collapsed’ or weak states and provide unique opportunities for internationals to exert far reaching influence in their reconstruction. The responsibility to help secure peaceful transformations and longer term stability is profound. This article explores the issue of efficacy and propriety in reconstruction programming and draws from field work in Sierra Leone – a rare example of ‘success’ for international partners in peacebuilding missions. The assertion is made that, despite the euphoria over the mission in Sierra Leone, the peacebuilding operations were more about the mechanics of statebuilding than the local politics of building peace, and that there was a distinct disconnect between the policy rhetoric and the policy practice. The argument is put that the pressing local concern of giving citizens a stake in government was not best served in the reconstruction project because the wider and more influential objectives of the peacebuilding mission were about meeting international goals not local aspirations. This reality has come at the cost of exploiting a unique opportunity for creative thinking about the kind of state structures which can better address the main challenges for sustainable peace facing post-war states like Sierra Leone.

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Review of International Studies
  • ISSN: 0260-2105
  • EISSN: 1469-9044
  • URL: /core/journals/review-of-international-studies
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