Peace Building in Post-Conflict Societies: Processes and Strategies

HoWon Jeong

            As peace negotiations have resulted in the settlement of intrastate violence and wars over the last decade, several societies have been going through difficult phases of post-conflict reconstruction. Negotiated settlement of long-term conflict brings about new challenges as well as opportunities for social transformation. The demand to rebuild divided societies emerging from serious long-term conflict is overwhelming, and recent efforts reflect the complex nature of the process of peace building.

            Peacebuilding involves a process comprised of various functions and roles. It often entails a wide range of sequential activities, proceeding from cease-fire, refugee resettlement to economic reconstruction and the advancement of human rights. The end of violent conflict has to be accompanied by rebuilding physical infrastructure and the restoration of essential government functions that provide basic social services. In the long run, stability cannot be achieved without the participation of former adversaries in a democratic political process and socio-economic reform.

            The dynamics of peace building are affected by dialectic human interactions and perceptions as well as the social environment. It takes time to overcome both psychological and structural obstacles resulting from protracted conflict locked in vicious cycles of confrontation. Social reconstruction, rehabilitation and reconciliation are essential elements that make a peace process durable and sustainable (Galtung, 1998).

            In spite of its relatively short history, there has been a growing interest in research on the conduct of existing peace building operations, especially since the mid-1990s, among policy makers and scholars. United Nations agencies, the World Bank, the Organisation of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and other international agencies created special units that deal with post-conflict reconstruction while Western governments have contributed to peace keeping operations and development aid for societies recovering from violent conflict.

            Scholarly interest has led to a proliferation of literature on different aspects of peace building (Amadiume and An-Na'im, 2000; Kumar, 1998; Harris, 1999; Morphet, 1998; Pugh, 2000; Rothstein, 1999; Sorenson, 1998; the United Nations, 1996; Walter, 1999). Research has also concentrated on peace building experiences in Angola, the former Yugoslavia, Cambodia, Congo, El Salvador, Mozambique, Somalia, Sudan, South Africa, and other countries individually or as a group (Anstee, 1996; Arnson, 1999; Chan and Vanancio, 1998; Lisee, 2000; Parris, 1997; Marks, 2000; Mockaitis, 1999; Synge, 1997; Vuckovic, 1999; Wood, 2000). However, an understanding of the diverse aspects of peace building has yet to be integrated in a manner that helps assess whether and how the wide variety of new experiences have accomplished the task of consolidating peace.

            Every peace process is not the same, especially in considering divergence in inherent conflict situations (e.g., the impact of intensity and level of violence in inter-group relations on transformative dynamics). However, overall conceptual and analytical approaches can be suggested to identify steps and actions for bringing about harmonious relations between former adversaries and reconstructing post-conflict societies. In enhancing our understanding of the strategies necessary for lasting peace, we need to look at how different dimensions of peace building can contribute to behavioural changes and structural transformation.

            This paper suggests that the analysis of the complex processes of peace building has to go beyond an institutional framework. Most reconstruction programs rely heavily on a pluralistic model of democratic institution building and economic recovery through free market oriented policies. It is often assumed that a peace building process ends with the establishment of a new government along with the introduction of economic recovery packages. Little analysis has been made of how democratic institution building and political transition are undermined by the lack of social and economic foundations. While establishing a stable political structure at the centre is no doubt important, not enough attention has been paid to communal social space where daily transactions take place for survival.

            Peace building approaches oriented toward re-establishing the existing status quo are not likely to lead to social transformation. The current focus on mere restoration of order has serious limitations. Existing political and economic structures can be an obstacle to overcoming imbalances between groups. The strategies have to be more geared toward modifying social structures and processes associated with these imbalances.

            Policy responses have been mostly prepared by donor agencies, and packages of specific implementation programmes have been formulated without much consideration of the particular circumstances of a recipient society. The institutionalised approaches are not often adequate to meet the specific needs and diverse interests of women, children, the elderly, and people with a marginalised social and economic status. These programmes have neither fully comprehended the meaning of their activities, nor their potential impact. What has not been properly investigated is the contribution that grassroots initiatives, introduced at a community level, can make toward establishing a peace structure and culture.

            Understanding the effectiveness of different elements of peace building is enhanced by examining how security, political, social and economic components support each other in rebuilding the fabric of divided societies. In doing so, this paper begins with the investigation of major assumptions, objectives and conditions under which peace building proceeds and has been implemented. Then it explains confidence building measures, political transition, protection of human rights, reconciliation, social rehabilitation and development. The analysis in the paper illustrates past and current experiences of peace building and, when appropriate, suggests areas which require reconsideration of existing strategies and approaches.

Dynamics, Behavioural and Structural Dimensions

            The task of peace builders in Bosnia, Kosovo, Liberia, Cambodia, El Salvador, Guatemala and other post-civil war societies is to confront unique psychological and ethical situations derived from a conflict system. Even with a negotiated settlement, shooting, bombing, shelling and other types of violence do not stop immediately. Given the tangible and imminent nature of violence or threats of violence, physical safety is obviously an important concern. In addition, the end of an internal war poses many social problems such as disputes over ownership rights to properties. The pain around the conflict remains evident and serves as an obstacle to a return to normal life. Thus, overcoming physical, mental and emotional challenges remains an important concern for those who have to rebuild their own societies.

            Peace building operations are, in a technical sense, charged with monitoring or implementing a negotiated settlement between two or more hostile parties' (Bertram, 1995, p. 388). In practice, post-conflict peace building starts when conflict has been controlled to the degree that normal social activities can be resumed, and reconstruction of violence-torn societies becomes possible. As intense violence becomes less visible, conditions for longer-term political and social stability take root. The control of violence at an interpersonal and inter-communal level is thus a prerequisite to establishing a constructive relationship.
             Conflict does not disappear in many social circumstances, and its proper management is an important task in transforming adversarial relationships. To prevent the disruption of a peace process, a cease-fire and other agreed upon peace settlement measures have to be observed, and, under certain circumstances, may have to be enforced. On the other hand, peace building 'is not a therapy' 'to impose on an unwilling patient', and cannot be achieved by a mere dependence on violence control methods. Trust and confidence building measures have to be taken in order to induce cooperation and produce positive attitudes that create a better atmosphere for the peaceful settlement of differences.

            Whereas progress in peace building relies on the improvement in inter-communal relationships, repairing relationships at a psychological level has often been suggested without examining possible sources of injustice. Changes in perceptions promoted by education and reconciliation have to be followed by structural reform that prevents the dominant relationships in the future. It is too optimistic to believe that a few training workshops and facilitated dialogue sessions, designed for reconciliation activities, can break the cycle of violence.

            The failure to provide solutions to the root causes of the problems that caused the war creates new dynamics in a continuing search for peace in a divided society. Although the operating goal of peace building has been considered in terms of averting the revival of a violent conflict brought under control, it should not be understood as a mere short-term conflict prevention strategy. With its requirement to gradually create conditions that will ensure that there is no reason to resort to destructive means again, peace building is a long-term activity going beyond the immediate imperative of stopping the gun.

            To prevent the recurrence of violence, the root causes have to be tackled by structural transformation. Thus, a long-term strategy is aimed at addressing 'the principal political, economic, social and ethnic imbalances that led to conflict in the first place'. Peace building can be generally characterised in terms of supporting 'structures which will tend to strengthen and solidify peace in order to avoid relapse into conflict' (Boutros-Ghali, 1995, p. 32). A broad scope of structural change has to follow the agreement on the key issue of reforms.

Dynamics Whereas dynamics of conflict resolution have to be extended to a comprehensive and durable peace process, implementing the agreements may not necessarily be linear, nor orderly and may not guarantee an expected outcome. In some post-conflict settlement processes, continued hostilities and mistrust ended with renewed fighting, and efforts to reach another settlement had to be made. For instance, an agreement between contending groups in Liberia in September 1995 did not end the chaos but led to renewed war. The renegotiations of new terms finally resulted in the election and creation of a new government in 1997. The entire process caused unnecessary human costs.

            Although it is not easy to bring adversarial parties in a communal conflict to the negotiation table, or to help them reach an agreement, it is an equally formidable task to ensure that the parties maintain their commitment to abiding by the agreement. During the period of the operationalisation of a formal accord, intense uncertainty and struggle exist over the scope and pace of prescribed reform. There are different expectations, feelings of insecurity, and a lack of established political procedures and normative standards. By generating continuing suspicion, an unpredictable atmosphere for the future makes community cooperation difficult. The implementation of a peace process is often delayed by continuing mutual distrust. In El Salvador, lack of progress in the land transfer programme provoked halting a phased disarmament by Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) in October 1992.

            Negotiation does not necessarily produce an outcome that brings about a balanced relationship. In addition, a conflict settlement process would not be able to address all the underlying issues reflecting critical dimensions in the adversarial relationship. Peace agreements can unravel if the parties come to the conclusion that it is no longer in their interests to abide by the agreements (Hampson, 1996, p. 3). Thus, new issues related to the implementation of a peace agreement as well as old issues underlying adversarial relationships have an impact on a post-conflict settlement process. Since the residue of anger and hatred has to be overcome in developing a collaborative working relationship, the restructuring of relationships has to go along with the implementation of specific agreements.

            The stated goals of peace agreements may well reflect compromised solutions at the negotiation table, but may contradict the demands of various group members. In most instances, peace accords result from concluding new pacts at the elite level, and concerns of various elements in civil society are not often incorporated in making compromise deals. The agreements opposed by extreme factions on each side, as has been well demonstrated in the effort to build a new Palestinian/Israeli relationship, do not themselves provide a guarantee for successful implementation, if the extremists attempt to destroy progress with violent tactics.

            In a nutshell, peace agreements are not the end of an old conflict since they 'sometimes contain their own seeds of destruction'. Political crisis can be generated in the process of implementing mandates. Restrictive provisions may bring about disputes over cheating. Too rigid terms for settlement can easily re-ignite inter-communal fighting. Therefore, attempts for overly strict implementation of the agreement make a flexible adjustment of peace plans to unpredictable situations difficult. The terms of settlement are often renegotiated during an implementation process, given that foot-dragging practices and broken promises are common. Most importantly, the post-accord process has to be adjusted to respond to the concerns of new stakeholders and expand the constituents.

Commitments and Motivations A lack of genuine commitments makes the transition to peaceful relations very difficult. The long civil war in Angola, which traces back to the struggle for independence from Portugal in 1975, suggests how difficult it is to bring about stability. The brutal phase of Angola's armed conflict continued with the rejection of the election victory of the incumbent government by the opposing National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) guerrilla forces and its resumption of insurgency. Control of destructive forces such as the Khmer Rouge was an important factor in the Cambodian peace process.

            The warring factions do not suddenly change their behaviour after peace agreements. The need of peace enforcement can be assessed in terms of the degree of the commitments from various parties. The continued intolerance of other groups can be a good indicator of renewed violence, and preventive deployment of forces might be necessary. Thus, the promise of nonviolent problem solving has to be carefully assessed with the evolution of new situations. The commitments will be weak if the parties do not have enough stake in the peace process (Jett, 2000, p. 52). The fragile process may break down without external support.

            Despite the involvement of difficult and costly military operations, peace enforcement functions have been deployed to dispel continued opposition. This is especially the case when political institutions and norms do not exist to regulate behaviour of the parties. In Bosnia where extreme nationalists and war criminals attempted to obstruct a peace process, the deployment of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) troops served as an instrument of coercive diplomacy, and it has fulfilled the enforcement function.

            A more desirable and successful settlement of violent conflict relies on the commitment of warring parties to determine their future at political forums but not through military tactics. Rules and strategies for games of survival during peacetime are different from those of wartime when planning was inevitably focused on immediate survival. In order to establish rules of peaceful competition for power, losers may have to be persuaded and pressed to accept the outcome of implementing their agreements.

             As those who benefit from the status quo want to maintain privileges, some form of serious confrontations is inevitable. However, engagement in a process of peace building has to represent a serious indication that a dominant party does not simply impose its will or eliminate the other side while a weaker party is committed to the pursuit of nonviolent structural transformation. Even though demands for change made by a weaker party are not often met, peace agreements should help provide a framework for continued efforts to transform unjust relations. The goal of peace building needs to be formulated by a shared vision arising from mutual understanding and the collaborative spirit of problem solving.

Mechanisms to Resolve Differences Re-negotiation of the process to settle differences is required due to many unresolved issues on the road to the creation of political institutions and economic reform. Given that failure to identify and manage incompatible positions is likely to bring setbacks to the process, there has to be continued confidence in resolving conflict peacefully with a concrete package of mutual commitments and undertakings. As negotiations rather than threats and intimidation have to be a principal norm to guide behaviour, a mechanism to sort out opposing interests is crucial in dealing with ambiguities and confusion surrounding the implementation of agreements.

            In the implementation of peace plans, peace making (often referred to as a negotiated method of resolving conflict) is complementary to peace building in that the former helps opposing parties reach an agreement on the common tasks of peace building. By being engaged in overcoming fragmentation and reducing animosities, peace making contributes to the successful implementation of peace building plans. Differences arising from ambiguities in interpreting the previous agreement have to be resolved by group facilitation, mediation, arbitration or bilateral negotiation (Bercovitch and Jackson, 1997). Peace making can be introduced to the design of post-conflict peace building mechanisms at various levels (Druckman,. 1997).

            A nation-wide network of peace structure contributes to mitigating widespread political violence in deeply divided societies. As happened in the post-conflict settlement of several Central American countries, the implementation of peace accords can be overseen by national and local peace commissions comprised of various warring factions. After the peace agreement was reached in El Salvador, both the progress and problems of the peace process were discussed by a National Commission for the Consolidation of Peace (COPAZ) whose members included two government representatives and two FMLN members as well as representatives from each party in the Legislative Assembly.

            Cooperative relations can be solidified through consultative mechanisms of dialogue and understanding by preventing a fragile settlement process from easily dissolving into a renewed outbreak of violence. Conciliation commissions representing various groups can be set up in countries experiencing serious ethnic tensions. They provide an impartial forum for the peaceful expression of majority-minority conflicts. These mechanisms are used to investigate potential or actual incidents and hold pubic hearings on community problems that generate inter-group animosity.

Beyond a Liberal Democratic Model In re-establishing the fundamental rules of state governance, formal democratic institutions, which ended long-term armed conflict, have been introduced to divided societies. The recent practice is based on the notion that democratic procedures and free market economies would prevent violence. Reform for democratic institution building mostly focuses on establishing rules for political representation through elections. Formal institutions and rules stress procedures rather than the substantive outcomes of political competition without significant consideration of fundamental social issues.

            The model reflects the dominant expectation that ethnic identities would gradually be eroded by the adoption of more universalistic values. The individual is supposed to be liberated from dependence on traditional societal structures, and rewards would be granted according to the universal and objective criteria of individual performance regardless of ethic or racial ties. The needs and aspirations of individuals would become similar under the impact of not only new institutions but also a common, urban, industrial, secular culture. Individual identities are rather related to state citizenship.

            Liberal democracy, serving as a normative model in post-conflict state building, has been applied without considering the empirical context of its applications. A liberal political model has been especially inadequate in addressing deeper causes and consequences of communitarian violence reflecting socioeconomic cleavages, internal colonisation, regional grievances, failure of assimilation, and cultural oppression (Lipschutz, 1998, p. 7). In protracted communal strife, social divisions along ethnic, religion and class lines are further deepened by self-sustaining patterns of hostility and violence. The process of transforming the dynamics of intrastate conflict is not separated from a social/historical trend toward a demand for greater group autonomy.

            Management and regulation of conflict are affected by existing social realities that contradict political pluralism in which success relies on the assumption that power is distributed among a plethora of interest groups. In a functioning pluralistic democracy, political institutions have to channel demands articulated by interest groups. The process of interest aggregation and its translation into policy matters by political parties is difficult in societies that lack not only a culture of political tolerance and compromise but also associations organised to defend specific interests. In addition, formal institutionalisation of a political process does not necessarily guarantee genuine expression of people's interests if the process is dominated by a few who have capacity to monopolise power.

            Overall, democratisation must be responsive to people's perspectives and interests, allowing their increased influence, as well as implying decentralisation of state power with representations of various groups and regions. Equally importantly, it should involve the emergence of horisontal relations at a local level so that a few elites and dominant groups do not monopolise power and resources (Soerensen, 1998, p. 17). In addition, this process has to be complementary to people-centred development, being considered in the context of a specific local culture and traditions.

Justice and Peace Peace being dissociated from social justice, does not address the fundamental structural causes of war (Jeong, 2000). Post-conflict reconstruction faces the deep social inequalities that are common in (and endemic to) many divided and impoverished countries. Political instability is inherent in the failure to reduce gross inequalities and in the lack of policies on poverty reduction. Formal methods of representation and institutional procedures can be a contentious issue without addressing power differentials among social groups and classes. The development of people's capacity to influence social structures and political processes has to go hand in hand with empowerment of the marginal sectors of society.

            Durable peace could not be achieved without 'the establishment of local, state, regional and international systems of procedural and distributive justice which are responsive to basic needs (Peck, 1996, p. 74). Procedural and distributive justice can be complementary to each other in the way that participatory mechanisms allow identity groups to express their needs and grievances in a constructive manner. In addition, forming political entities of multiethnic and multicultural configurations would require respect for greater autonomy and diversity. Dominant groups need to be convinced that their own long-term security interests are served by the promotion of a just society.

                                                      Linking Short-Term to Long-Term Processes

            Timetables have to consider the links between short-term crisis management plans and long-term strategies for sustainable community building. Some programmes are designed to meet the immediate physical and material needs of local populations. At the same time, most settlement agreements need to have schedules for a cease-fire and the subsequent demobilisation of armed combatants flexibly adjusted to the needs for security arrangements. Despite meeting the immediate goal of maintaining fragile peace, future conflict could erupt again without reconstruction and reconciliation. It will take more time to see the effects of such programmes on changes in culture and behaviour (Lumsden, 1999).

            Demobilisation of regular and militia forces and the creation of safe zones are critical initial steps to the stabilisation of a volatile situation at the early stages of a peace settlement. Short-term crisis intervention is necessary with the recognition of any sign of tension between groups. Demobilisation and integration of guerrilla forces into a newly reformed army had to proceed before moving to the next step for successful settlement in El Salvador, Namibia, and Mozambique. Halting violence and maintaining a cease-fire may be enough to create a stable security environment at the initial stage, but it has to feed into a new political process as well.

            Short-term strategies also have to consider an effective response to the emergent material needs of devastated communities. Humanitarian aid can focus on health, education and other social programs designed to meet urgent basic necessities. Without humanitarian aid and assistance, post-conflict society faces difficult conditions that prevent an easy return to normal life. The targets of relief work can be refugees and displaced people who have such needs as physical safety, family reunion, the supply of water, food, shelters, and medical treatment.

            A short-term emergency response has to be followed by resource mobilisation, professional training and restoration of administrative functions. Shattered social services such as health, nutrition, and education have to be revived with the rehabilitation of damaged school buildings and hospital equipment. In the intermediate term, it is crucial to reform government institutions, restore law and order, establish new local administrative structures, and train the personnel necessary to preserve them. The administration and supervision of fair elections precedes the formation of a functioning government. The political process ultimately has to move on to the integration of formerly warring factions into a new political structure, and the protection of human rights and justice.

            It is a long process to change the psychological relationship of the parties and social structures of conflict. Peace building following long armed conflicts is implemented in a complex social situation, and it requires multidimensional responses. Activities designed for long-term goals have to be able to regenerate themselves for transforming the cycle of conflictual behaviour. Projects for reconciliation and civil society building require transformative perspectives. The main task of reconstruction is to help local communities become self-reliant. Peace building lays the foundation for durable communal relations with social and economic improvement as well as reform of state institutions and political representation. Economic and social cooperation is fostered to build confidence among former adversaries.

            Reconstruction of economic and social relations is a crucial long-term issue in failed states such as Liberia, Somalia and Afghanistan. Strengthening civil society has been considered mostly in terms of reforming political and legal systems. The function of a new political system has to be compatible with the emergence of a free, independent press and democratic civic organisations. The mere concentration on institutional reform, however, neglects the future role of various local communities in an informal political process. Civil society building cannot exclude re-negotiation of gender roles in development and education. The role of grassroots media can be utilised for exploring the voice of the margins.

Functional Interdependencies Functionally interdependent relationships exist between various elements of peace building roles to be pursued at different periods of time. Though primary attention has to be paid to saving lives, relief activities also have to take into account future needs and long-term consequences of their actions. Demilitarisation is a more urgent goal than institution building while the former will be undermined in an unstable political environment.

            Military demobilisation, economic and political reforms are interconnected to each other in creating stable relations between former adversaries. 'For a peace settlement to be durable, institutions and support structures must be put in place so that the parties are discouraged from taking up arms again' (Hampson, 1996, pp. 9-10). Long-term development objectives cannot be achieved without building local capacity. Development programs are difficult to implement in the presence of acute violence and extreme insecurity (Stein, 2001). Thus, a secure environment for rebuilding political, economic, and social structures of war-torn societies is created by demilitarisation aimed at the control of violence.

            The major dilemma in a peace process is the clash between the need for power sharing and the desire to confront the sources of injustice. It was difficult to expect Khmer Rouge leaders to play a constructive role in the Cambodian peace process given their past involvement in genocide and other crimes against humanity. The Khmer Rouge were excluded from building a new political structure and they were eventually eliminated by military means. In general, since the immediate pursuit of justice endangers the settlement process, the extent of the participation of those responsible for human rights abuses depend on a complex balance of power and moral judgements.

Confidence Building and Demilitarisation

            Normalisation of relations is supported by confidence building measures along with the acceptance of mutual security. Confidence building, though traditionally applied to reduction in military forces and armaments, can help mitigate intra-state conflict situations (Garver, 1997). The effective handling of future crises and confrontations requires setting up clear sets of agreed norms and expectations among various groups. Regular lines of communication among former adversaries can lead to enhancing confidence across ethnic divides. In particular, a nonviolent expression of interests and techniques to resolve differences also strengthens the ability to constructively manage conflict.

            By making each other's motives transparent, confidence building reduces risks of renewed fighting resulting from miscalculation, miscommunication, and misunderstanding of intentions. Since misjudgement often provokes violent conflict, open discussion to clarify the issues and the exchange of information, in themselves, contribute to tension reduction. An atmosphere of trust is produced by demonstrating that the groups have no hostile intentions nor plan to make a surprise attack.
Mistrust and misperception cannot be eliminated when adversaries are armed. Suspicion in a political process exists when either or both of the parties refuse to put down their arms. Failure of demobilisation in Angola led to the destruction of the entire process. The situation in Cambodia was destabilised by the inability for complete demobilisation. The lack of a disarmament policy in Somalia created significant challenges to peace enforcement missions by the UN peace keeping forces, making their eventual withdrawal inevitable.

            Given that eruption of violence plays a destructive role in restoring confidence, introduction of confidence building measures at the early stage of peace building is desirable. The first step in the transition from war to building new relationships starts with disarmament and demilitarisation, which reduce the ability of adversaries to attack each other. The ability and desire to renew fighting are not reduced without the elimination of destructive capacities. Independent monitoring systems can be used to observe and report any breach of agreement that might have a risk of rearmament. The reduction and disbanding of opposing forces must be carefully monitored with verification procedures such as on-site inspection and observation.

            Mutual confidence building among former adversaries with the elimination of weapons reduces the risk of turning renewed hostilities into violent battles. The slow and ineffective implementation of the disarmament plan agreed upon in the 1995 Abuja peace accord among Liberian warring factions, made the deployment of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) peacekeeping forces throughout the country difficult. War erupted again after the joint forces of Taylor and Kromah expelled the Johnson faction from the interim government. ECOWAS Cease-Fire Monitoring Group (ECOMOG) failed to stop violence, including looting in the capital in the course of the April 1996 crisis.

            Such demilitarisation programs as demining (removing land mines), demobilisation and re-integration of ex-combatants into productive sectors of society are critical to creating a sustainable security environment. These programs have to be able to provide safety at individual and group levels. Through demobilisation, the number of personnel in the army has to be reduced while former opposing armed forces are disbanded. As new armed forces can be comprised of soldiers from different factions, demobilisation is not separated from restructuring and reformation of armed forces and police.

            Demobilisation also has to go along with the reintegration of former combatants into the civilian society. Discharge of combatants without proper training programmes suitable for community life, can increase social instability. Conversion and reduced military spending free resources for retraining and other social programmes while minimising the influence of the military over political process. Following the defeat of the regime in 1991, the transition government in Ethiopia implemented demobilisation and reintegration programmes involving national and local government agencies and NGOs. Financing resettlement, education, employment, housing, health, farmland and credit for ex-combatants was, to a great extent, supported by the International Committee for the Red Cross, the World Bank and bilateral donors.

Political Transition

            The end of an armed struggle is symbolised by the participation of belligerents in a political process through the formation of political parties and peaceful mobilisation of their supporters. The legislative voice for supporters of former warring parties has to be translated into their influence on government policies. Drafting a constitution and holding regional and national elections are legal procedures for creating new political structures.

            Peaceful transition requires the establishment of a functioning government acceptable to different parties along with the formation of mutually agreeable expectations and rules in inter-group dynamics. The new government ought to have a legal basis for its rule as legitimised by elections. Suffrage is applied to everyone regardless of his or her minority status, gender or racial differences. The contentious issue of political legitimacy of the government both inside and outside of the country is supposed to be solved by holding free and fair elections.

            Holding elections is only the first step toward the establishment of a functioning political system. Political stability is not immediately brought about by elections without stable institutional relations and consensus on political values. Most importantly, a legislative body does not operate in the absence of political parties abiding by democratic principles. Newly formed political parties have to adjust their behaviour to a new process of compromise.

            Although less time for political transition reduces uncertainties, local situations have to dictate the speed of the implementation process. The transition period can become inevitably long especially if the new government structure has to reflect a delicate balance between different groups. The transitional government, formed after the overthrow of the ruling military government in Ethiopia, lasted from 1991 to 1995, given the difficult negotiations of different political interests of the Tigrayan People's Liberation Front (TPLF) and other insurgent forces. In a drawn-out process of constitution making, a lengthy transition governed by old governments can cause mistrust. In the case of South Africa, the basis for transition was established by an interim constitution negotiated between the white minority government and opposition groups heavily represented by the African National Congress.

Negotiating a New Political Structure A new order needs to be negotiated among former adversaries in creating a new system. Constitution making has to be complementary to building a new political relationship. Given the impact of formal institutional structures on political games, adopting an appropriate political system is important. However, it is not always easy to find a satisfactory political framework following many years of struggle for autonomy, independence, and social justice. It takes long negotiation sessions and compromise to develop a final political framework.

            Minimum consensus as to the rules concerning political competition is essential to institution building. Constitution making served as a process of national discourse in Eritrea. Religious, ethnic, and regional constituencies were invited for public consultation to eschew a top-down approach. National conferences were held to discuss the transition to multiparty democracy in South Africa. In spite of high administrative costs, participation of a broad spectrum of society in shaping a new constitution is more desirable since it will produce a political framework that is more durable and widely supported. In order to encourage political participation, town and village meetings can be organised to promote civic education and public dialogue.

Power Sharing Arrangements In divided societies, exclusive ethnic, religious, or regional loyalties still remain obstacles in the process of institution building (Knife and Tekle-Mikael, 1997). The state as an institution does not always represent the general interest of the population. Concentration of power in one group can aggravate social and political cleavages that have generated a violent conflict. Minority concerns can be ignored by the majority favouring an electoral system that does not have power sharing mechanisms. The system, which allows the winner to take all, does not ensure the rights of minorities, especially following a zero-sum contest wherein positions for both winners and losers are sharply divided. In winner-take-all elections, the losers have incentives to take up arms and return to violence in order to pursue their political objectives. Voting systems need to be designed to guarantee that opposition voices are heard.

            A variety of constitutional models (power sharing at the centre and/or power delegation to minority regions) can be suitable for different traditions and social contexts. Political institutions can mitigate the impact of inter-group cleavages by ensuring the autonomy of minority groups. Institutions encouraging bargaining and accommodation are more likely to produce political stability. Coalitions can be built to undermine inter-group rivalry in preserving national cohesion whereas the political rights of groups, which do not belong to a ruling coalition, have to be protected.

            Power sharing can be achieved by proportional representation systems. Incentives for cooperation in bridging group differences are provided by the proportional representation of diverse ethnic and political groups at various levels of governments. Specific ratios between ethnic groups for jobs in the public service, the legislature, and the courts can be set up to reduce inter-group tension. Losers can be involved in the new government through power-sharing schemes such as a guaranteed distribution of administrative positions.

            Ethnic plurality is also protected by the structure of a federal government or other types of a decentralised political system. Stability in multi-ethnic countries derives from balanced power distribution between the centre and the region. Delegation of power to regions and districts can ease fear of minority groups concentrated in particular areas. Each region can be entitled to the right to choose and teach its official language as well as a national language. Public sector powers and tasks may be deferred to regions to give autonomy to diverse ethnic groups. Regions determine their own administrative structures, exercise authorised tax powers to generate revenue, and have separate police forces. Under specified conditions, regions may also have the right to secede.

            In establishing overall structure and organisation, allocation of power between the federal and regional governments can be a contentious issue. In South Africa, one of the most difficult issues was centred on how much power could be delegated to local councils. While the white population was dominated by blacks in sheer electoral numbers, they preferred to maintain autonomy through the reduced role of the central government, blacks who wanted redistribution of resources insisted on a strong central government.

            Various forms of federalism, implemented in Ethiopia, Rwanda, Eritrea, and Uganda, allow regional autonomy. In Eritrea, district and village-level assemblies and administrative structures constituted the basis of local governance although the transition to decentralisation was tightly managed by the government. In Ethiopia's ethnicity-based federation, administrative responsibilities and power are devolved to regions. Ethiopia contains about ninety distinct cultural-linguistic groups, and ethnicity is one of the major criteria for drawing boundaries among regions. Most of these are dominated by single ethnic groups such as Tigray, Amhara, Oromia, and Somali while three ethnically mixed urban and other diverse areas (e.g., Southern Ethiopia People's region) were created.

            The legislative function can be divided by two parliamentary chambers to rule out control of the central government by the majority ethnic population. In Ethiopia, the Council of Federation (an upper house), appointed by ethnic groups or the councils of the regions, can be charged with interpreting the constitution and deciding revenue sharing questions. The Council of People's Representative (a lower house), composed of representatives elected by secret ballot every five years, is charged with passing federal laws for the president's signature.

            This type of ethnicity-based federation, experimentally used in Ethiopia, helps dismantle an over centralised state and has been praised as a method to prevent domination of one ethnic group (Abbink, 1997). If it is seriously implemented, minorities can exercise more control over their own administrative matters, culture, education, language and local economy. However, critics say that ethnic politics fail to protect minorities within a given region and encourage increased group divisions. Arranging (or redrawing) new boundaries is not easy in areas where multi-ethnic groups have lived together for generations. The arrangement is also politicising ethnicity with exclusion, as minorities in a newly created region can be marginalised.             
Institutionalised solutions through a form of decentralisation, partition or secession will not eliminate intolerance toward minority groups left behind in new territories. In addition, artificial segregation can exacerbate ethnic tension over resources such as land, water and minerals.

Elections In securing power, an election is an unfamiliar process to former antagonists to whom popularity is a less known factor than military ability. In contending for power through elections, the ability to militarily seize power is replaced in favour of the electorate's choice, which may give victory to opponents. However, submission to popular will provides domestic and international legitimacy for formerly warring parties.

            The success of election competition largely depends on the willingness of the losers to abide by the outcome as well as the victorious party's acceptance of the opposition party's role. Losers have to be offered a voice in the new political process with some tangible benefits from participation in the system (symbolic and even material). Regular elections over time at different levels of political hierarchy give losers a continuing stake in the system. To draw compliance from a loser, fair competition in future elections has to be guaranteed.

            An outside presence helps alleviate the distrust of all sides by bringing fairness and security to the process. International observers are invited to oversee an election or plebiscite in order to ensure the free, democratic conduct of election. External election monitoring can deal with charges of fraud by documenting irregularities and fraudulent practices (Kumar, 1998). Lack of intimidation is one of the essential conditions for broad-based participation. Peacekeeping curbs violent efforts to disrupt the process by offering safety to voters and reassuring the secrecy of the ballot. Beyond monitoring, the absence of local administrative capacity requires technical assistance in such areas as preparing electoral codes, making voter lists, and providing personnel training. The costs of elections can be covered by international financial assistance.

            Timing of elections is a delicate issue. In Namibia and El Salvador, free elections were held after the complete demobilisation of forces. In Namibia, the election was held as the UN Transition Assistance Group supervised the withdrawal of South African forces and disbandment of civilian-armed groups. In El Salvador, elections followed demobilisation of the FMLN as well as reduction and reconstruction of the armed forces. This process was monitored by the UN Observer Mission in El Salvador, which had the authority to investigate the violations.

            The disbandment and reduction of forces leaves few choices for former violent adversaries but to accept election outcomes even when they are unfavourable to one of the parties. On the other hand, the failure of significant force reductions before elections offers an opportunity for one of the opposing groups to reject the election results and re-initiate a civil war. The UN Angola Verification Mission assisted in partial demobilisation of government and guerrilla forces, but effective monitoring operations were not carried out due to a lack of resources and personnel. The refusal of UNITA leader, Savimbi, to accept the election outcome, led to the resurgence of conflict in Angola. Failure of the peace process can be attributed to an unrealistic timetable for conducting the national elections despite the continued existence of two rival armies.

Shortcomings of Institutional Approaches Faced with fundamental political differences, depending only on legal/institutional approaches to democratic development is counterproductive. In the situation where competing interests are not easily incorporated in an election process, electoral victory may produce uncompromising attitudes by winners. Narrow representation is a source of further fragmentation. In the absence of a broad support base, political parties have to appeal to one ethnic group with exclusive messages. Thus elections can further polarise a divided society by generating more competition and animosity.

            Democratic development has to be based on social consensus regarding the system of rules that govern the expression of political differences and competition (Griffiths, 1998). Elections and other forms of democratic institutions cannot easily operate in socially fragmented and politically polarised societies (Ghai, 1993). Whereas elections justify a national power structure, they do not necessarily produce social consensus on rules. As a matter of fact, the enforcement of order can be legitimised by legalisation of the rules of those who are responsible for violent warfare. In the case of Liberia, for instance, the power of a former warlord has been solidified by victory in national elections, helping eliminate all other forms of opposition.
The design of a new political structure has to reflect cultural practice and social experiences as well as the exploration of mechanisms to reconcile the incompatible demands of group interests. The stability of a multi-party system relies on an economic and social structure such as the existence of a middle class. In addition, many ethnically divided Third World countries do not have historical traditions that have led to the consolidation of political processes and institutions found in Western liberal democratic societies. Overall, the institutionalisation of democratic practice will be a long process interacting with not only types and degrees of economic development but also the formation of new social groups.

Social Reconstruction

            Social stability would be enhanced by strengthening community networks and cultural traditions that promote peace and justice. National and community level coordination is needed for reconciliation and development. Contentious relationships can be overcome by social reconstruction designed to reduce inequalities. The notion of participation needs to be extended to the process of social and economic development. Adequate decision-making power has to be given to individuals and identity groups who previously have been alienated (Peck, 1996, p. 74).

Human Rights

            Improvement in a human rights situation is a major component in the development of civil society. Public confidence will not be gained without a guarantee of basic political, economic, social and cultural rights. Human rights have to confront structural issues of social injustice and political oppression often associated with authoritarian religious, political or military doctrines. The protection of human rights is not separated from peace and is crucial in social reconstruction.
Serious concerns have been raised regarding human rights conditions of vulnerable individuals and groups in peace building in Haiti, El Salvador, Cambodia, Guatemala and Angola. Internal security forces and paramilitary groups in Central American countries are closely connected to powerful landlords who are often responsible for the killing of peasants who protest denial of access to land. Violence and repression can be examined with the application of international standards adopted in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other documents.

            The continued intimidation by the military and para-military groups over civilians sustains a climate of insecurity. In a situation where government forces are seen as an instrument of coercion, the early promotion of human rights serves as a trust building measure before formal settlement is reached. Restoration of the judicial system and the administrative machinery has to be able to allay the concerns about civil rights for refugees and displaced people. Confidence in a new political process among the population would be gained by the protection of human rights.

            Establishing human rights norms may start with investigating the past history of atrocities and violation of human rights committed by the armed forces and the police. The atmosphere for promoting communal security would not be generated without revealing past abuses. The Human Rights Field Operation for Rwanda (HRFOR) was undertaken under the auspices of the UN High Commission on Human Rights (UNHCR) and administratively supported by the UN's Center for Human Rights in Geneva. The field officers deployed in 1994 and 1995 carried out investigations into violations of human rights specified in humanitarian law.
             Human rights situations have to continue to be monitored to prevent future human rights violations. International teams can work with local human rights groups to enhance the causes of justice. Human rights abuses have been observed and documented in Cambodia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Rwanda, and Uganda by UN and NGO monitoring missions. In the case of El Salvador, international monitoring teams maintained contact with both government agencies and guerrilla forces in order to investigate human rights violations and helped design new programs for armed forces.

            The protection of human rights has to be one of the primary goals for reform of public institutions in that injustice and oppression are still a source of social tension and violence. State institutions have to be adapted to new standards for future human rights guarantees. Organisations responsible for violent conflicts have to be replaced by new institutional structures that can ensure individual and group security and freedom. Given that local police and military forces are not trusted to protect marginalised social groups, human rights will not be guaranteed without the transformation of security forces involved in political repression. The entire armed forces were demobilised in Haiti, and were drastically reduced in El Salvador whereas paramilitary groups were disbanded. The police forces in those countries were forced to recruit new police officials and adopt a new organisational culture.

            In considering that war torn societies do not have adequate legal and administrative mechanisms, human rights would not be advanced without the rehabilitation and reform of the judiciary system and its infrastructure. Given that the absence of a fair, powerful judicial system lends a military security apparatus unlimited license for human rights violations, a judicial system has to be adequately established to reinforce human rights norms. In addition, education programs for human rights can be targeted toward military officers, law enforcement authorities, educators, and government officials as we have seen in Cambodia, Rwanda, and El Salvador. In Rwanda, priority was given to training judges, prosecutors, and police personnel beyond repairing court buildings.


            The network of social interaction, torn down by the deep and widespread effects of violent conflict, cannot be healed without reconciliation. Envisioning a new future would not be possible without acknowledging past abusive relationships. Personal fear has to be overcome for community building since the loss of familiarity in the routine and mistrust in others generates dysfunctional relations. Communities tormented with repeated violence do not have a social foundation of security, because various forms of inter-group violence destroy the realm of ordinary life. As the severe breakdown of normal values caused by violence hampers social integration, community stability needs to be recovered by dealing with paranoia, blatant mistrust and irrational behaviour. The capacity to trust derives from not only re-building confidence undermined by betrayal, apprehension, and outrage but also re-establishing social morality (Maynard, 1997, p. 210). In the absence of reconciliation, mutual antagonism and mistrust between adversaries would not be eliminated by a formal political process.

            Reconciliation may start with healing psychological trauma caused by indiscriminate killing and torture and other types of abuses. Trauma stemming from the experience of abusive violence includes mental deprivation and loss of meaning and control of one's own life (Montville, 1993; Rothstein, 1999). Mental vulnerability is further exacerbated by a loss of income and a lack of social support. Helping victims overcome trauma is an important step for regaining their individual self-esteem. Community programs are needed to help women who were sexually assaulted as well as others who were exposed to physical brutality and have subsequently been experiencing psychological wounds.

            Reconciliation contributes to the return to normality by focusing on both psychological and social needs. Compassion, the acceptance of an apology and forgiveness constitute important dimensions of reconciliation. Psychological rehabilitation is necessary for the social integration of victims. Personal and cultural realities shaped by violence have an enduring impact on people's sense of life and outlook on life. Personal healing is a prerequisite to group harmony since community cannot be maintained without the feelings of respect and security among its members. Restoration of honour and humanness is a reverse process of dehumanising, which diminishes power, and respect of individuals. Equal relationships can be created by making things right. New communal space is provided by reconciliation.

            Psychological aspects of reconciliation shed light on internal restoration related to a complex act of consciousness (McKay, 2000). Reconciliation undertaken in the context of a commitment to seeking forgiveness and mercy leads to the liberation of the psyche and soul from the need for personal revenge. The main goal of forgiveness is to overcome feelings of being victimised with the replacement of resentment, anger and hatred by compassion. The psychological transformation of a painful relationship springs from both transpersonal and spiritual experiences.

            Recovery from psychological trauma occurs in a social environment as well as an intra-personal psychological environment. Healing is difficult with the disappearance of normal psychological support provided by various forms of extended family relationships, friends, elders and religious figures. The act of expressing traumatic experiences takes place in a safe and stable social environment for communalisation and bereavement. In a period of mourning over losses, sharing emotions contributes to healing which in turn produces belief in the good intentions of other community members.

            Policies for reconciliation take such forms as compensation, and restitution in addition to psychological rehabilitation (van der Merwe and Johnson, 1997). Material losses of victims have to be compensated. An important goal of restitution is deterrence against future abuses. Lost honour and respect can be regained by an official acknowledgement of the pain of victims. Public opportunities to express grief for the loss and experience of injustice and pain are important for reconciliation. Psychosocial recovery can proceed by setting up mechanisms to meet the needs for care of victims. Recognition of the feelings and emotions of victims can be expressed in ceremonies or rituals in an organisational or public setting. In the treatment of trauma, communal ceremonies based in indigenous traditions can help the active search for new meaning. Health care workers familiar with local religious traditions may help develop the community's own mechanisms for healing.

            Truth and accountability for past acts need to be revealed to prevent future violations. The suffering of victims has to be recognised even where punishment is not possible. If national efforts to confront past abuses are neither credible nor reliable, international authorities can help evaluate the evidence assembled and prepare reports. In El Salvador, Guatemala and South Africa, past incidents were reported to and compiled by the truth commissions. The commissions investigated offences with interviews of private citizens and members of organisations. Their activities have led to revelation of the names of the worst perpetrators of violence and recommendations concerning criminal trials and amnesties. Beyond identifying human rights violators between 1980 and 1991, the Truth Commission in El Salvador recommended reform of state institutions to avert future offences.

            Truth commissions set up in many post-conflict societies compile a record of human rights violations but are not given authority to conduct criminal proceedings in order to avoid resistance from former abusers. Whereas suggestions concerning legal, political and administrative measures can be made, truth commissions do not have enforcement power. Reconciliation is not feasible and may not be compatible with the continued domination of old forces responsible for past crimes. After the return to democracy in Chile in 1990, the military remained as a powerful partner in the government despite its history of widespread human rights abuses. The military did not accept accountability for past crimes, and Pinochet was allowed to serve as commander of the army for several years following his retirement from the president position.

Social Rehabilitation and Empowerment

            As government institutions are inadequate to deal with grievances especially at a local level, indigenous capacity building is crucial to community survival. Given that formal procedures such as elections or new institutions are largely detached from everyday social situations, human development has to be an essential aim in the promotion of a civil society. The domination of government institutions does not help build a long-term goal of peace. Strengthening civil society through empowerment of the local population can help bring about changes in repressive political and economic structures.

            Participation of grassroots organisations in building their communities would be strengthened by their ability to maximise both cultural and material resources. Due to the fact that government institutions in war torn societies are ill equipped to provide support networks and offer services, existing networks of religious groups and development associations can be an effective means for overcoming social problems created by long-term destructive wars. Local capacity building, along with grassroots mobilisation of resources, can be geared toward supporting informal networks for the satisfaction of sustainable health, education and other needs.

            Reduction in political violence at a communal level is critical to social rehabilitation. Political violence can be best managed at a community level by building bonds between different identity groups. With the help of cultural and educational programs at the grassroots level, those who were disempowered by violent conflict want to move beyond meeting immediate physical survival needs to set up their future goals. Grassroots capacity building engenders the rehabilitation of dysfunctional social relations and culture.

            The ability of community groups to build long-standing relationships can be enhanced by social rehabilitation. Shared involvement and dialogue among group members support a sense of unity. Communities need to cultivate their ability to respond to crisis and development needs. Collaborative problem solving can be based on understanding diverse cultural values. New social norms of accountability and integrity would be explored to provide guidelines for acceptable standards of appropriate behaviour and communication between different segments of the population. Moral recovery of society can be supported by peace education programmes. Building a local peace structure does not require heavy investment. Excessive dependence on external aid is detrimental to local capacity building. Community groups can build joint action networks to advocate human rights values and facilitate cross-cultural understanding through dialogue and education.

            A grassroots peace building process also has to involve the utilisation of indigenous cultural institutions and norms in resolving community problems. Traditional customs and roles are regenerated in reintroducing peace culture and building a harmonious community structure. Security and subsistence have been provided by clan and subclan structures in places like stateless Somalia. In the process of resistance, the communities have developed a strong internal cohesion. Indigenous processes benefit from long-term communal interactions with self-confidence stemming from the preservation of the strength of indigenous culture.

            Religious and community leaders, healers, social workers and educators play an important role in social rehabilitation. Elders' councils and other traditional community groups represented by cultural figures such as tribal chiefs or elders can be re-vitalised to hear grievances. Religious, development and professional associations often contribute to restoring a fragile peace with a wealth of experience in negotiation with authorities. In many communities, women's groups have been working to develop peace and civic education (McKay, 1998, p. 358).


            Development has to improve a social reality that is inhospitable to human material well-being. Post-war economic reconstruction has to be designed to alleviate unjust socio-economic conditions, the main causes of war. Owing to the problems related to a lack of human capital and destruction of physical infrastructure, it is a challenging task to reinitiate economic development halted by violent conflict. It takes time to rebuild the systems of transport and communication, banking, health care, education and agriculture damaged or destroyed by fighting. In addition, inadequate distribution of land and other resources weakens the community's ability to recover from war wounds. The prospect for early economic recovery is further hampered by environmental degradation resulting from the conduct of war and subsequent population movement. In countries that endured long civil wars, local communities bear the heavy burden of the cost for repopulation and other economic recovery activities given the national government's indebtedness stemming from high military spending.

            In overcoming economic problems precluded by violent conflict, major attention may be paid to a production increase in agriculture, manufacturing and construction along with the establishment of small enterprises and commerce to be resumed by savings and credit. Sustainable development projects must be compatible with the protection of the environment that supports the survival needs of local populations. It is often the case that due to the low domestic capacity of raising revenue and high demands for expenditure, the role of foreign donors with financial resources is critical in economic recovery (Harris, 1999, p. 117).

            Economic growth and patterns of income distribution have to be considered in an integrative framework of building harmonious relations between different social groups. The logic for a market economy provides opportunities to pursue self-interest, but does not create conditions for social harmony. Macroeconomic reforms aimed at stimulating the economy can generate income gaps with unequal development across different regions and groups. On the other hand, cutbacks in public spending and real salaries to reduce budget deficits, undermined peace accords at places like El Salvador (Väyrynen, 1997, p. 157). The goal of community development cannot be achieved without equitable distribution of resources to support economic activities of the poor and marginalised. Given the fact that incentives for local economic activities are not created by pure liberal economic policies, investment in human and physical resources should be balanced with financial and monetary stability.

            The capacity of indigenous organisations to mobilise resources in a local setting is the key to a grassroots development approach. Uprooted populations need to be integrated into development programs with assistance in promotion of self-sufficiency and sustainability. The participation of local populations in rebuilding their communities reassures regained control over their own lives. Various projects organised at a community level such as production cooperatives, savings and loan associations, job training and literary programs operate in an informal economy.

            Economic programs have to be designed to bring about stability and equity (Boyce, 1997). Political stabilisation is undermined by both perceived and real imbalances in income and wealth. Ending a long civil war does not necessarily induce significant changes in the overall economic structures. In order to reduce deep and expanding social disparities, an economic system has to be reformed in a way to strengthen the development potential of different ethnic groups and ultimately to produce benefit to all the groups.

            In promoting the goal of peace, development programmes have to address the social and economic ills that are the roots of violence. Long-term economic planning has to consider such social issues as land distribution. Those who own the coffee plantation or have monopoly over other means of production can still exercise a dominant influence on rebuilding the local economy. The resistance of these forces in El Salvador, for instance, makes it difficult to implement the land distribution plan included in the Peace Accord that the government and rebel forces signed. In order to overcome these problems, the process of land transfers can be expedited by government funds.

            Development cannot be easily disentangled from democracy and security. Relief and other economic aids need to be redesigned to strengthen participation in production activities that meet the needs of local communities. Development can have an impact on the economic livelihood of the poor while enhancing cooperation. Development projects involving former adversaries contribute to regional economic integration. Resolving differences in such matters as resource allocation and infrastructure building requires careful negotiation assisted by international donors. Trust building emerges from development programmes that benefit all, and can be implemented in collaboration with former enemies.

            There has been a growing awareness that development can build bridges between different communities instead of generating contentious competition for resources. Tension in the Sudan was reduced with the resumption of trade links between southern and northern areas. Opening up grazing land and setting up collectively owned enterprises could be carefully oriented toward the promotion of cooperation between former adversaries. Housing reconstruction projects for returning refugees and displaced persons may also involve various groups of the local population. Improvements in living standards through economic cooperation would provide incentives for efforts to reduce animosity between communities. Long term economic planning must be concerned with building new functional relationships that discourage the initiation of a new cycle of violence.

Assessing Third Party Roles

            Different types of intermediary activities can be performed along the continuum from violence prevention to social reconstruction. Physical protection is provided by peacekeeping forces, while social situations are monitored by international agencies in the field of human rights and development. International assistance has supported social recovery with its focus on development and institution building beyond the protection of refugees.

            To fit in a post-conflict settlement process, various third-party functions have been modified. For instance, peacekeeping has been expanded, beyond its traditional role, to such areas as assisting food distribution, confiscation of weapons of local militia groups, restoration of basic government infrastructure and transportation systems. In the event of recurrent violence, the principles of neutrality and impartiality have to be superceded by humanitarian concerns. Given the existence of continuing sources of tension, implementing the agreement needs to be monitored and supervised as well as being assisted by a third party.
             The presence of international observers helps eliminate a climate of mutual distrust and suspicion. The third party role has not been limited to technical support, and mediation of political differences has become a critical element. Intermediaries can change the dynamics of conflict by being engaged in a continued dispute resolution process. An 'escalating spiral of alleged violations and counter-recriminations' is likely to happen without third party intervention.

            Third party involvement has been important in preventing violence in several volatile situations (Walter, 1999). Mediation between warring parties before, during and after elections has to be provided in response to possible disputes. In Ethiopia, Western embassies brokered a July 1991 national conference attended by most political groups in the volatile period following the fall of the military government in May 1991. In another case, the timely intervention of the international community mitigated a crisis situation caused by the Mozambique National Resistance (RENAMO)'s threat, in October 1994, to withdraw from the election after alleging widespread fraud on the part of the Mozambican government.

            The level of intervention can be, in part, determined by the degree of administrative capacity of local groups. With the existence of reliable local administrative structures supported by community groups, the task of rebuilding a physical infrastructure may simply need outside technical support. In places like Namibia, however, the UN special representative helped draft election laws and had extensive review power over the activities of local administrators owing to a lack of local management experience. In El Salvador, UNDP, FAO, and UNCHR were involved in social and economic reform beyond humanitarian assistance. When public confidence in the local administrative authorities is low, more intensive support and involvement are needed.

             Since the old government was not trusted by its adversaries, governmental functions in Cambodia were undertaken by the UN Transitional Authority in Cambodia's (UNTAC) civil administration unit until the new government was formed. The UNTAC drafted the electoral law, and provided an electoral code of conduct as well as regulations to govern electoral processes. They also registered voters, established civic education programs, organised and conducted elections, counted votes and persuaded the parties to accept the outcome.

Division of Roles In general, there is a division of roles between different agencies in their involvement in crisis management, helping renegotiate a timetables and providing technical expertise, and financial and material resources for infrastructure building. Some international agencies are engaged in short-term emergency relief activities rather than long-term development. The immediate concerns of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) are the protection of refugees and assistance for their settlement. As a crisis management (oriented) agency, its operational focus is on short and medium term aid mostly directed toward individual refugees. It provides transport, shelter materials, and food assistance for less than a year, as well as community-based assistance and grants designed for repair of infrastructure.

            UNHCR, as the lead international agency on refugees, supported rehabilitation efforts in Cambodia in responding to the return home of more than 365,000 Cambodian refugees between March 30, 1992 and April 30, 1993. UNHCR also implemented a Concerted Plan of Action adopted by the 1989 International Conference on Central American Refugees (CIREFCA). By providing post-return assistance in overwhelming ad hoc emergency situations, the programs have improved the economic status of the returnees and their communities.

            The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in general, offers technical assistance for long-term and strategic development. It conducts feasibility studies and establishes planning and implementation procedures while supporting the consolidation of local programmes and project execution capabilities with community participation. In meeting these goals, the UNDP has been providing aid for social and economic reintegration of uprooted peoples since establishing the Development Program for Refugees, Displaced and Repatriated Persons in Central America (PRODERE) in 1989. The World Bank has become an important player with its financial and economic recovery packages. In Bosnia, they have funding programs for agriculture, water supply, transportation, housing and electricity, and even demining and demobilisation of ex-combatants. Public work programs are designed for assistance to small businesses and farmers.

            Given the complex processes of supporting reconstruction, co-ordination is needed in achieving a defined political goal (Forman and Salomons, 1998). No third party has all the resources needed for rebuilding war torn societies. The United Nations, regional organisations, Western donor countries and NGOs have the capacity to offer technical and financial support. In development assistance, repatriation of refugees, electoral monitoring and observation, various agencies complement each other's activities. In preparing the elections in Bosnia and Kosovo, the OSCE has been in charge of general election coordination, while the UN has taken responsibility for civilian registration. As they do at many other places, NGOs, often funded by Western governments, support UN agencies by helping with voter registration, electoral observation and monitoring.

            There is a continuing voice that stresses that third party intervention has to be coordinated among various agencies to prevent duplication of investment and repetition of the same activities. Effective planning and implementation result from prior coordination of different activities (among multiple actors). The role of donor countries can be consulted with groups in civil society and local institutions through joint decision making mechanisms. External assistance ought to be compatible with the concerns of the intended beneficiaries (instead of the imposition of the bureaucratic procedures by the donors). The community's long term needs can be met only by local efforts towards self-sustainability. Empowerment is most likely to be achieved by projects carried out by aid recipients. While many donor governments prefer to provide grants to the projects organised by Western NGOs or international organisations, international communities have not paid enough attention to the role of community groups in setting up priorities and goals of development.


            More comprehensive approaches to peace building are needed as issues facing post-conflict society are diverse and complex (Reychler, 2000). The vast majority of the populations in failed states such as Somalia face economic devastation coupled with virtual government anarchy. The existence of polarised political groups, limited legitimacy of political leaders as well as a lack of consensus on a new political process further add uncertainties to the process of peace building. In order to create a sustainable structure for peace, agreements among key military leaders and politicians have to reflect the needs and interests of community groups and have to be supported by them.

            The recovery of a fractured community increases its ability to change the dynamics of the cycle of conflict. Peace building ultimately has to focus on problems attributed to original and new sources of serious conflict. The reconstruction of a broken social and human fabric in a war shattered region has to be geared toward promoting human well-being and social justice, which constitute positive peace. Social empowerment and trust building improve the chances of successful reconstruction.
             Most importantly, peace building cannot be merely regarded as a technical task such as setting up and running government institutions, providing judicial services and establishing new economic infrastructure. Those engaged in mitigating conflict or rebuilding a violence torn society need to understand physical, social, emotional and spiritual aspects of a conflict system. Deep-rooted political structures and culture cannot be transformed by bureaucratic, administrative approaches. Political negotiations among warlords have often ignored the human dimensions of peace building.

            A participatory process will eventually help achieve the long-term goals of sustainable economies and self-governance. Work at the grassroots level often goes unnoticed, and merits greater recognition by international agencies. Fundamental needs and concerns, as defined by local communities, can be the cornerstone of peace building activities. In conclusion, peace will come with the cultural transformation of societies enmeshed by cycles of violent conflict and the elimination of a structure associated with dominant power relations.


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