Governance in post-conflict societies

(Excerpt from a long article of 55 pages on

The first section of this paper takes stock of the current discussion on governance in post-conflict societies. It presents a functional differentiation of the three “dimensions of governance”, specifically security, politics/administration and the economy. This section concludes with a brief description of the key actors involved and a discussion of gender roles in post-conflict societies, an issue that crosses all three dimensions of governance.

Successfully promoting good governance in post-conflict societies depends on a number of issues, particularly the way in which the conflict was settled, the actions undertaken by the international community in order to stabilise the post-conflict environment, and the extent to which statehood has been weakened or destroyed during the time of conflict. Chances for consolidating peace and improving governance are certainly best where the conflict parties themselves negotiate a settlement and are merely supported and monitored by the international community. A high degree of ownership also means that the parties involved are more likely to compromise in order to gain the higher good, peace.

Recent experience shows, however, that Technical Co-operation commonly operates in far less ideal circumstances. In many instances, the international community had to exert strong pressure in order to stop civil war or regional conflicts. This was often followed by an engagement of Peacekeeping Missions or Peace Support Operations (led by the UN), a regional organisation (such as ECOWAS in Liberia 2004), and/or an individual country (such as Britain in Sierra Leone). As a result, there are presently over 40 missions (UN, OSCE, EU) active in post-conflict societies. (For an overview of the development of international peace operations, see: W. Kühne (2001). For a detailed overview of recent missions, cf. the website of the Center for International Peace Missions:

These diverse international peace operations determine to a significant degree the options for post-conflict governance and shape the framework for related TC measures.

In many post-conflict societies, the breakdown of order is difficult to reverse and threatens the entire state with disintegration; a risk that is often exacerbated by wider regional conflicts. Weak states have little hope of restoring a monopoly of force or meeting public responsibilities like security, education or health. Technical cooperation needs to take into account the extent to which statehood has been weakened or destroyed when operationalising its policy recommendations for specific countries. The strengths and weaknesses of a given state often vary across the three dimensions of governance. The provision of security, however, is understood to be the key factor in determining its functionality and character.

2.1 Dimensions of governance:

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