Steven Peterson's Reviews > At War's End: Building Peace After Civil Conflict

At War's End by Roland Paris
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Feb 07, 11


This volume is one that advances preconditions for successful democratic nation building, based upon a series of recent case studies (such as Angola, Rwanda, Cambodia, Liberia, Bosnia, Croatia, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, Namibia, and Mozambique). This is one of a series of works (such as The RAND volume, America's Role in Nation-Building;Fukuyama's State-Building; etc.) that address what it takes to create new democratic states that will ensure.

Roland Paris addresses an issue that initially seems far afield--peacebuilding. However, his analysis ends up very much on the mark for better understanding democratic nation building. For Paris, peacebuilding represents ". . .postconflict missions". . .with ". . .the goal of preventing a recurrence of violence" (Paris, 2004: 2). What does this have to do with nation building? As he explains (2004: 5):

Peacebuilding missions in the 1990s were guided by a
generally unstated but widely accepted theory of conflict
management: the notion that promoting "liberalization" in
countries that had recently experienced civil war would
help to create the conditions for a stable and lasting
peace. In the political realm, liberalization means
democratization, or the promotion of periodic and genuine
elections, constitutional limitations on the exercise of
government power, and respect for basic civil
liberties. . . .

On the economic side, liberalization refers, according to Paris, to the movement toward a market economy model. His study of a series of postconflict situations finds this liberal economic democracy model a common end goal of peacebuilders. In effect, what he terms peacebuilding looks very much like what others call democratic nation building.

Paris argues that the most promising strategy is IBL---Institutionalization Before Liberalization, that is, that peacebuilders should not immediately move toward economic and political liberalization. Rather, they should first (re)build institutions so that there is a stable base. Among the steps in this process are:

1. Wait until conditions are conducive for elections to
take place.
2. Design electoral systems to reward moderate parties
and candidates.
3. Work to develop a stable civil society.
4. Head off the emergence of "hate" speech.
5. Develop conflict-reducing economic policies.
6. In short, rebuild effective state institutions.

For Paris, there needs to be a two-step process: first, build institutions as a foundation; second, construct liberal structures on that foundation.

This means time and hard work. For successful democratic nation-building, patience is needed--and understanding thast the process must be carefully managed with uncertain outcomes. In short, this is a must read on the subject of what it takes to produce successful nation-building.
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