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The Local Turn in Peace Building: a critical agenda for peace


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This article unpacks the renaissance of interest in ‘the local’ in peace building. It pays increased attention to local dimensions of peace in a wider context of increased assertiveness by local actors as well as a loss of confidence by major actors behind international peace-support actors. The article sees the ‘local turn’ in peace building as part of a wider critical turn in the study of peace and conflict, and focuses on the epistemological consequences of the recourse to localism in the conceptualisation and execution of peace building. The local turn has implications for the nature and location of power in peace building. This article is largely conceptual and theoretical in nature but it is worth noting that the local turn is based on reactions to real-world events.
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The Local Turn in Peace Building: a
critical agenda for peace
Roger Mac Ginty & Oliver P Richmond
To cite this article: Roger Mac Ginty & Oliver P Richmond (2013): The Local Turn in Peace Building:
a critical agenda for peace, Third World Quarterly, 34:5, 763-783
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The Local Turn in Peace Building: a
critical agenda for peace
ABSTRACT This article unpacks the renaissance of interest in the localin
peace building. It pays increased attention to local dimensions of peace in a
wider context of increased assertiveness by local actors as well as a loss of
condence by major actors behind international peace-support actors. The arti-
cle sees the local turnin peace building as part of a wider critical turn in the
study of peace and conict, and focuses on the epistemological consequences of
the recourse to localism in the conceptualisation and execution of peace build-
ing. The local turn has implications for the nature and location of power in
peace building. This article is largely conceptual and theoretical in nature but
it is worth noting that the local turn is based on reactions to real-world events.
This article aims to unpack the increasingly prominent local turnin the study
and practice of peace and peace building.
The local turn is something of a
terra nullius for the liberal peace epistemology. It represents a dangerous and
wild place where Western rationality, with its diktats of universality and mod-
ernisation, is challenged in different ways.
The local turnis connected to the
critical approach to peace and conict studies and has been heavily inuenced
by critical and post-structural theory, postcolonial scholarship and practice, inter-
disciplinarity, as well as a range of alternative ethnographic, sociological and
action-related methodologies. Scholars and practitioners from the global South
have played a particularly important role in the emergence of the local turn, as
well as involving a broader range of states in international peace building.
The practice of key state representatives and international policy makers gath-
ering in New York, London or Washington to decide what is to be done about a
specic conict without signicant local representation continues unabated. UN
and other international documents and policies encompassing Agenda for Peace
(1992) to Responsibility to Protect (2001), are indicative of this approach. Vari-
ous attempts at making peace agreements around the world are normally negoti-
ated in Western bubbles (geographically in the West or within a green zonein
the conict environment), according to Northern rationalities, with a few local
Roger Mac Ginty and Oliver P Richmond (corresponding author) are both at the Humanitarian and
Conict Response Institute, and the Department of Politics, University of Manchester, Ellen Wilkinson
Building, Oxford Road, Manchester M13 9PL, UK. Oliver Richmond is also International Professor, Col-
lege of International Studies, Kyung Hee University, Korea.
Third World Quarterly, Vol. 34, No. 5, 2013, pp 763783
ISSN 0143-6597 print/ISSN 1360-2241 online/13/000763-21
Ó2013 Southseries Inc., 763
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elites involved who have a controversial claim to represent local constituencies.
This has been the case for Cyprus (1974 and 2004), Israel/Palestine (1992),
Bosnia (1995), Kosovo (1998) and Afghanistan (2001), among many others.
Such an approach is increasingly unsustainable, both from a normative and
a strategic perspective. There are some signs, such as G7+ activism, that the
orthodox approach is changing. Despite its recent advances, the local turn
faces considerable obstacles and is often restricted to the margins of orthodox-
dominated peace building thinking and practice. The aim of this piece is to
chart and contextualise the local turn, to clarify some misunderstandings about
it, and to position the local in the context of global politics and the interna-
tional architecture of peace building.
We seek to move beyond the old tension between the local and particular and
the international and cosmopolitan not by reframing cosmopolitanism or
replacing it with relativism, but instead by starting from the perspective of a
methodology of and for peace, in its local, state and international contexts. In
other words, we take a pluralist view of difference and see peace as hybrid,
multiple and often agonistic.
At all levels there are subjects exercising their
agency for peace or against it, doing their best to maintain a viable everyday
existence in the face of governmentalism (global government, for example, in
the name of liberal peace) and structural power (where power is exercised
regardless of its implications for order or peace).
The tension between broad
and narrow denitions of peace at all these levels of analysis exists in the
comparison between social, state and international norms, institutions, law and
rights, systems of redistribution, and identity in any post-conict environment.
The tension is also visible in contradictions between local and international per-
spectives of what peace is and how it may be achieved. These contradictions lie
in the international structure, its historical evolution, in power, understandings
of rights, representation, norms, law and society. Ultimately these contradictions
represent the contestation of the conditions of emancipation across various
We see unpacking the local turn as an exercise necessary to understand the
changing conditions of peace: understanding the critical and resistant agencies
that have a stake in a subaltern view of peace,
how they act to uncover or
engage with obstacles, with violence, and with structures that maintain them.
We argue that, although this also occurs at the international level, through what
has become an international architecture of peace building, what happens at the
local level is as important and far less well understood. Worse, it is quickly
dismissed by those who wield unaccountable executive power at the
international level.
The local turn has been subject to signicant misunderstandings since it was
rst suggested in peace and conict studies.
Attempts to consider localised
rights, needs and identity are often rebuffed as romantic, relativist or particular-
ist, anti-democratic, anti-developmental, contravening youth and womens rights,
as well as human rights more generally. The local turn is seen as an affront to
the liberal peace,
a betrayal of Marxist-derived understandings of social
justice, and certainly a rejection of the naturalright of the North to intervene
in the political formations of the South. It is seen as resting on an ideal, pro-
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gressive local subject, and unrealistically ignoring the backward, non-rational
processes of local politics. A lack of development is taken as a reason for
externally directed attempts at industrialisation and marketisation, which are
assumed to be the point of any intervention. A lack of liberal institutions is like-
wise taken to be a sign that the local represents a terra nullius upon which
benevolent, reformist and developmental power is to be overwritten.
The local is assumed to be a near empty space, willingly subservient to
Northern models and interests. For these reasons debate about the local tends to
drift into debates about the state and international intervention, and how state
building and international assistance can assist local communities to achieve
security and well-being. At the same time many scholars have pointed out that
local and hybrid institutions are weak or dysfunctional, corrupt or neopatrimoni-
al. It is assumed that political liberalism is immutable and should be defended
because there is no better universal objective.
Finally, it is often pointed out
that there is no real local, as the world is globalised and networked. Such cri-
tiques are reminiscent of colonial anthropology in their assertion that including
local agency and the problem of power relations in a discussion of peace (ie a
civilising mission) is retrogressive.
Such critiques have often pointed princi-
pally, in orientalist mode, to the lack of capacity at the local level to combat
structural power wielded by elites or by colonists, and to the fact that most local
agency was in any case constitutive of and willingly complicit with colonialism,
which is used in modern times to justify the governmentality associated with
liberal peace building and state building.
It is our contention that most of these assertions or counter-critiques are
understandable, but awed.
What they show instead are the limits of Western
understanding about peace, politics, the state, rights, needs and identity in
diverse contexts and in plural form.
They indicate the naturalisation of Wes-
tern power rather than the scientic validity of the liberal peace architecture, the
neoliberal state and related forms of intervention. They also indicate, because
such pressure is being brought to bear by local subjects on the liberal peace/
neoliberal state architecture, that a local turnhas widespread global implica-
tions and dynamics. A decolonisation of knowledge about peace making and
peace building is required, a task which has already been pointed to by many
scholars interested in peace issues, and is now gathering more attention.
Indeed, the international is also subject to a range of similar problems, but
rarely rejected as a category: for example, who is it, for whose interests does it
operate, are its institutions capable? Is its involvement in local affairs demo-
cratic and accountable? Where does its legitimacy arise from and how is its
authority connected to the representation of its many subjects? Are the person-
nel who work in the international civil servicesuitably qualied and aware of
the range of ethical, methodological, as well as political and social issues that
go along with their role? Are they aware of the historical power relations they
are implicated in? Surely its institutions, whether states or international organi-
sations are also hybrid, weak and framed in a cultural, historical and linguistic
context which is not comprehensible to most of its subjects? Is it not merely a
cipher for a small group of elite states, their interests and normative values?
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While much of this article is concerned with the discursive framing of peace
and conict, it should not be forgotten that the local turn is grounded in
real-world events. Some of these are related to the growing voice and
condence of actors from the global South. But others are related to the stum-
bling of the liberal peace. While the liberal peace still retains immense material
and symbolic power, still holds sway in international organisations, and has had
some positive impacts, its limitations have also become increasingly apparent in
the context of an eirenistperspective. In other words peace and power coexist,
but so also do consent, empathy, care and emancipation.
This is not only
illustrated by the Iraq and Afghanistan quagmires, but more generally through a
realisation that states from the global North face limitations in imposing their
will on others.
To add some nuance to this claim: this crisis at the interna-
tional level is also partly internal. There are many within the international
architecture of peace who quietly work to engage with local forms of legitimacy
(there is an infra-political level to the UN system that engages with legitimacy
as a local framework rather than solely as a national or international one, for
example), and to mitigate the impact on everyday life of international interests
and priorities being attached to peace building or development (without jeopar-
dising their jobs). There are many local actors and movements that see much to
gain from the liberal peace system, if only they could gain access to it.
The article proceeds by rst outlining the parameters and growth of the
critical school of peace and conict studies (within which the local turn can be
located). It then explains the key elements and drivers of the local turn, before
outlining the obstacles it faces. The article contends that the local turn amounts
to a critical agenda for peace, and considers how it can be advanced.
The critical school of peace and conict studies
Peace Studies is an inherently critical endeavour. By taking peace rather than
war or the state as its principal referent, it sets itself apart from orthodox
approaches to international relations and political science.
Moreover, it has
often had an explicitly normative dimension, one that is prone to being deeply
unfashionable in eras dominated by security imperatives. Hence, during the
Cold War or the war on terror, Peace Studies scholars were often dismissed as
Although sometimes lumped together as a homogeneous bloc of
fellow travellers, there are in fact signicant nuances among those who study
peace. These were neatly summarised in a 1968 essay by Herman Schmid,
which contained a withering attack on the self-proclaimed founderof Peace
Studies Johan Galtung. The essay cautioned against the capture of peace
research by vested interests in the global North: peace research has adopted a
system perspective and a value orientation which is identical with those of the
existing international institutions and lies very close to those of the rich and
powerful nations.
This presaged Robert W Coxs warning to the discipline of International
Relations, and the social sciences more generally.
Here Cox highlighted how
scholarly approaches to international relations could be categorised as problem
solvingor critical. The problem-solving camp, as the term suggests, tended to
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focus on solvingimmediate problems but was generally incurious about the
wider structural factors that led to those problems. It was often policy
orientated, with many problem-solving scholars having links to the policy world
and being commissioned by governments to consult on pressing social
problems. The critical perspective, on the other hand, was prepared to question
the fundamental bases of problems and our understandings of them. Like an
annoying three year old child, it asked why?a lot.
Peace Studies has had a rich intellectual heritage, with many scholars, such
as Mitrany, Burton and Azar among others, working in and around issues of
conict and peace, and connecting them to a range of different sites of knowl-
edge: the international system, for Mitrany; the networks of IR and responses to
human needs decits for Burton; peacekeeping, mediation, negotiation, conict
resolution, conict transformation, development and, more recently, peace
building and state building for scholars who followed.
Many other scholars
were connected to political peace movements, and wrote on peace, but were
from different disciplines or were outside of academia: Keynes and Einstein are
perhaps the most famous. More recently postcolonial scholars, anthropologists,
geographers and others have become more interested in the methodological and
epistemological, not to mention ontological, dimensions and implications of the
study of peace and conict. Mainstream North American thinkers, from Doyle
to Fukuyama, have also shown an interest in issues relating to peace (from the
perspective of the political philosophy of liberalism and its ideological implica-
tions as well as in practice).
Peace-related research has steadily gained greater prominence since the end of
the Cold War as policy makers and scholars have sought to understand civil war
and to perfect international peace-support interventions. The problem-solving
and critical paradigms have remained in place as the discipline has grown
(although it is too simplistic to think of a binary with clear-cut distinctions
between the two). The problem-solving paradigm has found plenty of opportuni-
ties to work with states, international organisations and international nancial
institutions (IFIS) as these have, collectively and individually, sought to deal with
fragile states,complex social emergencies,ethnic cleansingand a range of
pressing humanitarian and political problems. According to Michael Pugh, the
problem-solving approach operates within a particular ideological milieu:
it ts into the overarching neoliberal ideology that merges security and
development; romanticizes the localas victims or illiberal; builds hollow
institutions; designs economic life to reproduce assertive capitalism; equates
peace with statebuilding; and assumes that interveners have privileged
knowledge about peace issues. The paradigm is mobilized with a package of
transformation policiesan assemblage construed by academics as the
liberal peace.
Indeed, the concept of the liberal peaceproved to be a rallying point for many
critical scholars who sought to illustrate the contradiction between the liberal
rhetoric used to justify international peace-support interventions and the often
illiberal means and outcomes involved.
Some also sought to challenge
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the ideological supremacy of political liberalism, or to open space for other
understandings of politics, the state, rights, needs and law to be developed in
the context of peace. Others point to still unresolved structural problems at the
international or state level of political and economic architecture, which mean
no conict is really local, just as peace may not be solely international or state-
led. Questions of historical and contemporary justice underlie many such
Despite its vibrancy, the critical school remains a minority interest, especially
given the material power associated with the problem-solving perspective. Some
authors have sought to savethe liberal peace, describing it as the best option
Others, such as Dominik Zaum, question the usefulness of the
liberal peace concept, seeing it as a straw house: it is high time to abandon the
term liberal peacebuilding. Offering little analytical purchase, its main purpose
today is as an efgy for the pyre of critical peacebuilding scholarship, distract-
ing attention from many of the highly problematic consequences of contempo-
rary peacebuilding practices that much of this literature touches on but leaves
Such positions, however germane, ignore the consequences of power, the
way in which the liberal peace system has evolved as an after-effect of the
emergence of the state system and its colonial history, as well as the global
political economy. They are in effect content to ne tune contemporary peace-
building practices as if their existing ontological and epistemological basis, the
ideology and biases they carry, and their assumption of executive power and
unproblematic exercise of intervention or conditionality was itself without
consequence. Such positions skate delicately over the everyday issues raised by
conicts in their local and international roots, power relations and consequences,
and seek implicitly to naturalise existing hierarchies of power, ideologies and
interests, as well as more subtle factors such as race and epistemology. There is
a tendency to focus on supercial issues and quick xes or ideological goals
with little regard for major structural matters or causes of conict, or local
everyday dynamics of peace. At the same time mainstream positions concur on
the need for human rights and democracy, and yet seek to justify executive
power, ignore issues of global inequality, and maintain a distance from everyday
life that enables peace building and state building to operate as if there is no
ethical responsibility for their consequences (unintended or otherwise).
Thus, in Timor Leste for example, the post-conict period was used as an
opportunity for building an unsuited Western-style state using liberal norms
rather than local ones. Even the funds raised from Timors oil and gas eld
were only to be used sparingly, and preferably not for the short-term welfare of
an impoverished society. Power was handed to a Portuguese settler elite rather
than to the indigenous communities. There has been no ofcial discussion of
Western complicity in the Indonesian occupation that maintained poverty,
denied self-determination, mobilised armed resistance, and also led to civil
conict between the Timorese, even though it has been widely discussed at the
private level. Instead the international community describes itself as peace
building, state building, offering donor support etc, with impunity.
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Notwithstanding the critiques of the critique, the critical project remains
a vibrant force within the study of peace and conict. It has been much
inuenced by postcolonial scholarship and by scholars from the global South
who are particularly aware of the issues of power relations in peace.
local turnin the study of peace and conict can be understood within the con-
text of critical approaches. It is a recognition of the diffuseness of power (even
the normativepower of the UN, donors, and the EU) and its circulation,
the importance of culture, history and identity, the signicance of local critical
agency and resistance,
of the unintended consequences of external blueprints,
and of rights and needs in everyday contexts. It is a recognition that peace
building, state building and development should support their subjects rather
than dene them. This is an uncomfortable fact for those imbedded intellectu-
ally and in policy terms in an international peace architecture of foreign and
development ministries and agencies, working closely with national militaries,
in the UN system, the IFIS, international nongovernmental organisations (INGOs)
and in the donor system, and are used to wielding executive power where con-
ict has caused a breakdown of governance, institutions and society. It sheds a
different perspective on the invisible melding that has occurred of colonial atti-
tudes, postcolonialism and cold war stabilisation of states, peace keeping, peace
making, diplomacy, development and military intervention. Peace has followed
power in recent history, but the local turn indicates that power is becoming
more diffuse. It is this local turnthat this article now addresses.
Understanding the local turn in a transnational, transversal world
By localwe mean the range of locally based agencies present within a conict
and post-conict environment, some of which are aimed at identifying and creat-
ing the necessary processes for peace, perhaps with or without international help,
and framed in a way in which legitimacy in local and international terms con-
verges. This peace is normally an everyday and emancipatory type, in which
authority, rights, redistribution and legitimacy are slowly rethought, and are
reected in institutional and international architecture. Indeed, this means a very
signicant broadening of the representational capacity of international peace
architecture from the standard set by the allies at the end of World War II and by
the UN Secretary General at the end of the Cold War in Agenda for Peace (and
its later iterations). But this should reect, not displace, localised peace or recon-
ciliation processes, which may be a by-product of other more prosaic processes
whereby individuals and communities get on with everyday economic, cultural
or survival tasks. The pursuit of everyday tasks may allow individuals and
communities in villages, valleys and city neighbourhoods to develop common
bonds with members of other ethnic or religious groups, to demystify the other
and to reconstruct contextual legitimacy. A local peace may be inuenced by a
formal peace accord, or national political dynamics, but it is designed locally
and may buck national or international trends. In some conict-affected areas
particular towns or districts may be more harmonious than others.
In part this
may be because of a series of often unspoken accommodations at the individual
and community levels. These localised modi viviendi may not be very visible
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nationally or internationally, and may revolve around tolerance and coexistence
rather than more ambitious forms of conict transformation.
It is not the intention of this article to romanticise all things local, especially
vis-à-vis their innatecapacity with respect to the structural dynamics of con-
ict and power. The authors are fully aware that local actors and contexts can
be partisan, discriminatory, exclusive and violent (as can international actors).
Local contexts also contain power relations and hierarchies that favour some
above others (as do international frameworks). Moreover, the authors are also
aware that the localhas an elastic meaning, geographically and conceptually
(as does the internationaland the state). Yet the notion of a locale, or identi-
cation with a particular geographical area, identity group, or theme is common
across cultures. Even if de-territorialised, the term localdepends on some
shared social capital among networks, spanning the local to the global in some
A key descriptor of localis that it is differentiated from the national
and international, although of course any boundaries are blurred by the fact that
all agency is networked in an increasingly complex manner. The local is not
necessarily exclusive of the national and international. Indeed, it is often much
less localthan imagined, and is the product of constant social negotiation
between localised and non-localised ideas, norms and practices. It can be trans-
national, transversal and be comprised of a geographically dispersed network.
We see local agency from two main perspectives. First, from that of practice:
small-scale mobilisation for peace in practical terms, in the context of everyday
life and of the state, but sometimes necessarily hidden from view, and often
expressive of informal critical or tactical capacity rather than head-on public
This may express limited subaltern agency, but also may carry signi-
cant social legitimacy. Second, we see local agency from a philosophical and the-
oretical perspective: in terms of the social and historical struggles which give rise
to legitimate institutions in each context through larger-scale mobilisation,
according to a complex localinternational mix of identities, values and norms,
and of cultural, political and economic practices. Power relations underlie these
interactions, where local agency confronts signicant governmental and structural
power that seeks to co-opt or countermand it, but we see powerresistance
knowledge as a circulatory framework rather than xed in a hierarchy in which
effectively all peace is a victorspeace. This provides a contemporary under-
standing of how peace in everyday, as well as state and international, contexts
forms contextually as well as is created by interventions from the outside. Under-
standing the theoretical and philosophical (as well as ideological) underpinnings
of practices provides us with an understanding that the localand the subjects of
peace, intervention and the stateare essential for any viable, sustainable form
of peace. The local turn effectively allows for the reconstruction of emancipation,
via the everyday, in an empathetic frame (solidarity), in which subjects have
agency (meaning we are all subjects). Structural obstacles to peace can be better
redressed, although this may demand radical solutions.
Sometimes this local is not very visible even if active. Members of civil soci-
ety, the local-localor social organisations may wish to keep a low prole, and
avoid suffering sanctions from local or international opponents.
Part of the
problem with local agency and its dynamics when related to peace is that it
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lacks structural power when confronted with the forces of violence in its own
context, and also in the context of the nature of the international system. So,
while there is a necessity for peace to be formed according to local understand-
ings of legitimacy, identity and institutions, the liberal peace and neoliberal state
also represent a signicant top-down peace project, with structural power resting
on their greater resources. Yet even these resources are rarely able to prevent
local violence or mitigate the historical inequalities and biases built into the
international system. Engaging with the local highlightsacross so many
casesthe need for space to be created by concerted and well targeted action
for peace to form locally. The paradox is that such external capacity, designed
to provide space, should not be coloured by interests, biases, or ideology
because it then loses local consent and legitimacy.
The recourse to the local is not a new departure for international intervention.
Local actors and norms have been harnessed by colonial interventions for many
centuries. For example, colonial administrators elevated Tamils above Sinhalese,
and Tutsis above Hutus. The instrumental use of the local has also long been
part of the counterinsurgency toolkit, with the emphasis placed on hearts and
mindsand on co-opting local communities to savethem from insurgentsor
The local turn has received added impetus because it dovetails
with parts of the narrative constructed to justify the liberal peace. In particular,
this extends to the liberal recognition of the individual as a key political actor.
Also crucial in the instrumental harnessing of the local in international peace
building projects has been a greater recognition of the merits of conict trans-
formation, as opposed to simply conict resolution and conict management.
Localism is hardwired into conict transformation as it emphasises the need to
address relationships between antagonists and the need to address conict at the
individual and community levels. Conict transformation is not content with
elite-level peace agreements, and instead drills down to address the identities,
attitudes and education systems that underpin conict. There are multiple exam-
ples of the local turn in peace building, whereby donors states, international
organisations and INGOs pay more serious attention to local-level dynamics even
if mainly for instrumental or rhetorical reasons.
Interestingly the term local
is absent from the landmark 1992 document Agenda for Peace, which outlined
the need for greater urgency and coordination behind peace building. Thereafter,
however, there has been a steady increase in the deployment of localism in the
discourse and practice of the liberal peace, together with actions by local com-
munities to harness, exploit, subvert and negotiate the internationally driven
aspects of the local turn.
As the rst decade of the 21st century progressed, the word localbecame
ubiquitous, suggesting that international organisations are aware of the legitimacy
and sustainability advantages to be gained by cooperating with local partners.
While the documents listed below vary in size, it is clear that international organi-
zations have taken a local turn, rhetorically at any rate (see Table 1).
The local is also attractive to the subjects of such international projects, who
themselves want resources as well as some space to dene their own peace
project. They are pushed into complicated compromises (often described
patronisingly as forum shopping) by internationals in order to balance two
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contradictory forces: compliance with the liberal peace, and political autonomy
in a specic social and historical context. As is discussed below, some aspects
of this local turn are genuine while others are expedient and shallow.
The local turn poses a fundamental challenge to the dominant ways of
thinking and acting about peace. Rather than peace being framed by a historical
discourse of Western/Northern power and epistemological advancement, more
democratic understandings of peace, politics and the state, as well as of the
postcolonial international order, are emerging. Discursively and rhetorically, at
any rate, the dominant forms of peace-support interventions led by states and
institutions in the global North have rested on notions of universalism. Univer-
sal notions of rights have been used to justify peacekeeping and protection
forces, regime change, international criminal court proceedings and many of the
elements that comprise international peace-support interventions. Localism,
however, challenges this order. At the heart of the local turn are notions of
particularism and local variation that confront universalist ideas and practices,
as well as the naturalhistorical progressiveness that places the North/West at
the top of the current international epistemic hierarchy, simultaneously absolved
from blame for colonialism and inequality. Such a communitarian ethos is in
tension with a liberal-international peace architecture exemplied by the UN
and to some extent the donor system. But this is not all there is in any localised
peace formation context. It is easy to forget that such a perspective of the local
as endemically dysfunctional is a grotesque simplication of power, politics,
institutions, identity and legitimacy and the vital task of building stable orders
through them rather than despite them. Indeed, it may well be that both the
communitarian and the cosmopolitan streams of peace thinking have in practice
increasingly merged.
It also is easy to forget that a local perspective of the international (a perspec-
tive commonly repeated across both the authorsyears of eldwork) is that it is
also endemically dysfunctional, contextually insensitive, disrespectful and
distant, unaccountable, interest-based, normatively biased, ideologically xed,
mercenary in its naturalisation of capitalism and unwilling to address inequality
or the historical injustices stemming from colonialism.
A convergence
between local peace agency and internationals who think about the changing
TABLE 1. Frequency of localmentioned in major peacebuilding policy documents
Year of
publication Title of report
Number of
Number of times local
is mentioned
2000 Brahimi Report 170 46
2005 In Larger Freedom 65
2010 Review of UN Peacebuilding
41 11
World Bank 2011 World Development Report 286 382
UNDP 2011 Governance for Peace: Securing the
Social Contract
124 197
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possibilities of emancipation across geography, history and societies (rather than
disciplinary forms of integration) may be emerging quietly, via this local turn
and despite the resistance to its implications from within the more traditional
frameworks surrounding peace.
Local actors, whether elites, societal groups or individuals, are regionally and
globally aware and connected. They work through and with a variety of institu-
tions such as the UN system, INGOs, donors, social movements and transnational
civil society, the business and education environments, and new media. They
carry opinions which translate into agency (however hidden from the Northern
gaze) on what causes conict, what must be done and how. They may be con-
fronted by the failure of their own historical peace-making institutions, and need
help in repairing and redesigning them in their own context, mindful of regional
or international contexts too. Yet internationals are accused of taking the
moment of most vulnerability in a post-conict society as an opportunity for a
complete reconstruction. This is akin to the World Banks and IMFs Structural
Adjustment Programmes of the 1980s, which some have called shock therapy
or predatory disaster capitalism.
This may be unethical, but it is also unempathetic, damaging to lives and
livelihoods, causes resistance, is anti-democratic, and undermines human rights.
It overlooks the need to engage with traditional sites of power, authority and
legitimacy, whether positive or negative. In short it is a projection of Western
hegemony reminiscent of its past colonial authority rather than of autonomy,
democracy, rights and cooperation. It maintains a global hierarchy and inequal-
ity rather than addressing the causes of conict. It supports a predatory global
economy (from the local or subaltern perspective), the separation of rights from
needs, and it removes local identity, community and thus historical context. It
perpetuates in less obvious ways global and local injustices. In short, much
current peace building and state building strategy appears to conrm a long-
standing colonial narrative that places the global North in a dominant, selsh
and also vulnerable position.
The West exercises structural and governmental
power against the local, simultaneously preaching democracy, human rights and
accountability and assuming the subaltern has little agency.
Clearly this is not what international peace builders or state builders actually
intend or want to achieve. Most would be horried by this compressed analysis
of their role. So the key question addressed later in this article is: what is to be
Explaining the prominence of the local turn in peace building
Local peace-building agency is not a new phenomenon. Such agency has
always been present in various formats. The important recent change is that
local agency has become more prominent, and there is a greater willingness in
some quarters to take it more seriously. Everyday emancipation, political
awakenings, resistance, questions about the role of the state and authority of
international actors and donors, as well as the problems raised by the hierarchi-
cal state-system, ideological donor-system, the hidden arms trade and the goals
of emerging donors, are changing the landscape of IR and of peace and conict.
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A number of factors account for this change. First, the crisisof the liberal
peace has opened up space for other perspectives on peace building, many of
which originate from local practices and thinking. Orthodox approaches to inter-
national peace-support interventions have suffered a crisis of condence. This is
not solely a result of the failures of the Iraq and Afghanistan interventions. A
series of other costly and lengthy missions civilisatriceshas produced less than
resounding results since the end of the Cold War, and each has been internally
criticised for not achieving enough, especially in terms of social justice, and of
becoming a site of ideological engineering, representing the overspill of the
global Norths structural and governmental power, interests and identity into
localised peace and state architectures.
Cambodia, Côte dIvoire, Rwanda, South Sudan and Tajikistan, for example,
have all been recipients of major international peace-support assistance. Yet all
are ranked by Freedom House (2012) as being not free. All six states in which
the UN Peacebuilding Commission has been active (Burundi, Central African
Republic, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia and Sierra Leone) are ranked as
partly free. Nepal, Angola, Afghanistan, Iraq, Haiti, Cambodia, Burundi and
Sudan languish near the bottom of Transparency Internationals 2011
Corruption Index, despite being recipients of signicant international attention.
The key point is that there is ample evidence that the top-down, securitised,
state-centric orthodox approach to peace building has had decidedly mixed
results. This has led to intervention fatigueamong a number of historically
interventionist states in the global North (although it seems absent in relation to
Iran) and, together with the chastening effects of the global nancial crisis, has
helped rein in the interventionist tendencies in a number of states and interna-
tional organisations. This rolling back of the liberal peace, or a puncturing of
the hubris on which it feeds, has freed up space in which the localis more
visible. It has also damaged the concurrent humanitarian project. Simultaneously
the mystication of the global Northspeaceagendas, as they are construed
by liberal peace building, neoliberal state building and mainstream forms of
development, is exposed as ideological, self-interested, and perpetuating
inequality and injustice. The local turn unmasks just how conservative peace
building is, and offers a controversial perspective on its virtual peace.
A second reason for the increased prominence of local agency in peace build-
ing relates to the epistemologies and methodologies used to examine peace,
conict and international intervention. Put simply, some researchers and policy
makers are more willing to seethe local and have equipped themselves with
better tools to conduct this task. The state-centric, realist paradigm has been
signicantly eroded over the past two decades. However, many policy makers
and researchers still remain sceptical because, from their perspective, reform can
only be led by enlightened leaders and institutions, and most local agency is
conict- rather than peace-oriented, or carries normatively unacceptable prac-
tices onwards. From this perspective the goal is to maintain the legitimacy of
the international to govern the local in ways deemed best for their security and
development, to build a state that maintains such a system, and to nd ways in
which the local-local(ie the local that cannot be described as subscribing to
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liberal and neoliberal rationalities) can be marginalised so that it does not threa-
ten regional security, procedural forms of democracy or international trade.
More sophisticated understandings of conict have developed that are
cognisant of the linkages between development, identity and the onset and
maintenance of violent conict. Even state-centric, neoliberal and conservative
institutions like the World Bank have begun to see the merit of strategies that
effectively operate with more local consent rather than resistance (even if this is
only a rhetorical shift).
Yet the full implications of any local turn have yet to be fully understood.
Given that it suggests alternative sites and modes of legitimacy and authority in
specic contexts, it also points to the problem of power relations and, to use
Foucaultian dispositifs, illustrates a number of dynamics. First, that liberal peace
building is an example of governmentality and it raises inevitable resistance (as
Scotts work suggests).
Second, in the context of peace making power circu-
lates rather than is unidirectional and top-down (meaning structural power and
governmentality effectively fragment when applied to the subaltern or local).
Third, inequality in materialnot just rightsterms is both a causal factor of
local and regional conict, and offers an avenue for its resolution. Thus, it may
not be far-fetched to assume that liberal peace buildings oversight of the local
may in some senses be designed to avoid this postcolonial realisation of
subaltern agency.
The study of international relations has become more diffuse to encompass
very non-strategic elements such as emotions and the body.
Those seeking to
understand and respond to conict have been more willing to draw on sociology
and anthropology in order to augment and challenge more traditional explana-
tions that have a basis in international relations and political science.
and reexive research methodologies have become more widespread, and there
has been a growing acceptance that state-centric and institutionalist lenses can
only give a partial picture. Of course, we should not downplay the signicance
of mainstream responses to the opening up of disciplinary boundaries, especially
in the past 10 years, where critical work has often been attacked for undermin-
ing the authority of the liberal state, neoliberal capitalism, cosmopolitan norms,
and so forth, where it was often expected to concur (or comply).
A third reason for the increased prominence of the localin peace building
is because it is in sync with similar changes in the development eld. We have
seen the rise of buzz phrases such as participation,local ownershipand
partnership. In some cases this is a rhetorical device aiming to place a veneer
of local consent and legitimacy on top of a donor system dominated by actors
from the global North. In other cases, however, there has been a recognition
that development or peace-support interventions that are restricted to the capital
city or national elites have little chance of becoming sustained.
with local communities is seen as a way of embedding a project or programme
within local communities, helping tailor it to local needs and cultural expecta-
tions, and ultimately ensuring success. This remains the view, even where
conditionality is used, and local communities are expected to comply with
donor programmes or standards, or their bureaucratic imperatives, even where
culture, history, society and identity may be congured in very different ways.
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Despite such moves, the core of international programmes remains the same. As
a very basic example, the expectation that subsistence communities recognise
and respect individualism, secularism, neoliberal marketisation, liberal property
rights and new technologies for agriculture, and move away from their own
local approaches, undermines the notion of local ownership, as well local
constructions of legitimate authority. This is a paradox internationals are only
now beginning to recognise in peace building and state building, although
development anthropology has long been aware of it.
It illustrates the way the
local is securitised and modernised in Western liberal and neoliberal terms,
rather than supported in its local struggle for peace.
A fourth reason for the increased prominence of the local in approaches to
peace building has been the rise of practitioners from the global South (many of
them conict-affected societies) to senior positions in international organisa-
tions. This has had a number of effects. It has imported greater cultural and his-
torical awareness of different identities, and of injustice, of the impact of
colonialism, and of the rights of indigenous subjects in the international system,
whereas previously the dominance of Western hegemony and rationality had
made these invisible. It has introduced the West to a broad range of interests,
identities and perspectives of the peace-building architecture, as well as some
hints of the West/Norths own subject status. However, some postcolonial voices
in the international system, especially at the state or international level, also
often adopt a mainstream voicethe defence of sovereignty, status, privilege in
their own states, as well as negotiating in the system for their own state inter-
ests. Often they have been educated in the West, or received their professional
training in a Western, rational-legal institutional format, ultimately well versed
in the thinking of Hobbes, Kant, Weber and Hayek about war, democracy,
peace, capitalism and the role of the state. Local thinkers, Marx, or other types
of alternatives are often not present,
even though Chinese, Brazilian, South
African and Indian donor-investors in post-conict environments claim to
operate on variations of the dominant liberal peace framework.
But perhaps the most signicant factor behind the growing prominence affor-
ded to the localin peace building interventions has been a gradual increase in
the assertiveness of local actors. This is not to say that local actors have
suddenly discovered agency. Instead, it is to argue that many have found a
louder and more targeted voice, sometime simultaneously through and contra
the liberal peace framework. In part this is the result of a realisation among
many communities that trickle downpeace and development often has patchy
results outside of formal government and NGO networks in major cities, and that
its liberal or neoliberal prescriptiveness does not accord with their own identity
or norms. In order to access reconstruction or reconciliation funds, they realise
that they have to become activists and bring the local to the capital rather than
wait for metropolitan elites to come to them. It is also a realisation that formal
peace building projects and programmes are often limited (not least in duration).
As a result individuals and communities realise that they have to fall back on
their own (usually local) resources and get on with the stuff of everyday life.
Importantly local activists have been able to tap into a series of platforms that
have allowed local voices (whether authentic or not) to be more prominent.
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NGOs have become more internationally networked, and more able to connect
with forums that facilitate SouthSouth transfers.
There has been a renaissance
of interest in indigenous, customary and traditional approaches to dispute
resolution and reconciliation.
Some of this has been mere positioning by
international organisations and donor states, paying lip-service to the local
while continuing with top-down policies. But some of it has been more mean-
ingful and has been willing to take on board local perspectives and initiatives.
The United Nations has established a Permanent Forum on Indigenous Peoples,
and campaigns such as those behind UN Resolution 1325 and on environmental
issues have provided forums through which NGOs can mobilise and network.
Agenda 21, a non-binding sustainable development plan from the United
Nations, has been augmented by Local Agenda 21, or an attempt to bring an
international agenda to a local level. Of course, the mainstreaming of the local
carries the risk of co-opting the local and nullifying any of its aspects that might
deviate from liberal peacesbest practice. Nevertheless, there is evidence that
some donors from the global North are prepared to work with, rather than
through or against, local actors even when the local actors seem far-removed
from the worldview of liberal peace donors. sIDA, for example, has been
working with maras and gangs in El Salvador and Haiti to effect violence
This raises a series of ethical and practical concerns, but it does
illustrate a willingness to take seriously power dynamics on the ground.
Obstacles to the local turn in peace building
Many of the obstacles to the local turn have already been touched upon, so this
section will provide a brief summary. Most of the obstacles are structural and
are embedded in the fabric of the liberal peace and the political economies that
underpin it. Four obstacles are worth mentioning. First, there is a trend towards
the standardisation of peace-building interventions. This isomorphism can be
seen through the spread of technocracy, the professionalisation of staff, the
promotion of best practiceand the spread of common conict analysis frame-
Much of this is inuenced by neoliberal management frameworks as
opposed to a humanitarian ethic, solidarity or empathy with the subject. There
is also a tension between these and more liberal-institutionalist approaches to
world order (see the tension between the World Bank and the UN, for example:
the latter is wary of neoliberalism). The practice and discourse of peace building
have yet to agree on an equivalent to the Sphere standards that seek to standard-
ise humanitarian practice,
though they do profess to local ownershipand to
do no harm.
There are, however, strong trends towards standardisation which
risk crowding out local approaches and seeing local variation as deviating from
the norm. It might be said that what was once criticised as a form of distant
and unaccountable governance of post-conict zones for a negative peace,
which appeared to represent governmentality to its subject, has now, since the
invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, developed into a far more aggressive and
insensitive form of structural power from the local perspective. We are sure that
this is unintended on the part of the liberal peace architecture, but strategic
interests and securitisation after the start of the war on terrorhave also seeped
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carelessly into peace building and development. As Chabal notes, this seepage
of power has been a mark of Western liberal visions of world orderfrom
imperialism to the liberal peace.
One of the main implications of this requires
policy makers, administrators and eld-ofcers to put their subjects rst (ie to
engage with them at least as partners) and to nd ways of preventing strategic,
political, ideological or normative interests and preferences, driven by state
elites, key donors or hegemonic states, from undermining the subjectsneeds
and rights in any peace process.
A second obstacle, and one already mentioned, is that the local turn contra-
dicts the universalism that lies at the heart of liberal optimism and notions of
universal rights. By awarding legitimacy to local norms and practices, some of
which might signicantly deviate from liberal norms, the legitimacy of universal
projects may be undermined. This requires that the West see its own universal-
ism and rationalities associated with peace as local to itself, and any attempt to
negotiate with a broader array of actors than has hitherto occurred should accept
that a thin universalism containing acute (and often agonistic) difference is both
realistic and ethical if all subjects are to recognised and represented (the
supposed aim of the liberal peace).
A third obstacle comes in the form of the epistemologies and research anten-
nae used by key actors in the liberal peace to see local situations. Quite simply,
many proponents of the liberal peace nd it difcult to see the local. Reporting
mechanisms used by international organisations and INGOs, for instance, often
use standardised formats that are unable to fully capture local nuances. Often
local dynamics are too diffuse and complicated to be conveyed in tick-box or
other formats that seek to standardise information. Finally, a major threat to the
local turn is that it is co-opted and neutralised by orthodox, internationally
designed, funded and promoted approaches to peace building. Orthodox
approaches to peace building are often able to wield signicant material power
(access to power, resources and legitimacy). This is tempting for many local
civil society actors, although to access these resources they often have to
conform to practices, norms and language dictated by donors. Agencies such as
the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) have long been aware of
this but have found it difcult to respond fully. The humanitarian and peace
building worlds see a constant trade-off whereby local actors negotiate with
international standards, often in the context of a lack of security and material
resources. The results are often hybrid forms of peace and politics, in which the
local and the international interact to form fusion practices. Often the interna-
tional is unsatised with these because compromise with the local appears to
undermine Western liberal norms or neoliberal frameworks. In this relationship
the material power held by liberal peace actors may be enough to disciplineor
tamelocal actors, although there is plenty of evidence of local actors subvert-
ing, exploiting delaying and negotiating with the international. A recognition of
the realities of the hybrid forms of peace that are emerging from Timor-Leste to
Afghanistan is not an apology for the failings of liberal peace building or
neoliberal state building or a celebration of their continued disciplining of their
subjects. Neither should it hide the fact that many scientically accepted causal
factors of conict are generally ignored by liberal peaces supporters, such as
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material local and global inequality, the weakness of markets in regions of
instability, or the global arms trade.
We discern from local agency and its relationship with hybrid forms of peace
an attempt to redene what peace and legitimacy mean in different contexts, to
maintain everyday life, to gain autonomy, aspirations for social forms of justice,
to express identity, and to engage with certain aspects of the liberal peace. We
also discern a failing or refusal on the part of international actorsin their
public transcripts at leastinvolved in peace building and state building to
acknowledge their accountability to local subjects or to refrain from naturalising
international and local hierarchies (at the professional as well as political level).
Similarly they often use unaccountable executive power in ways that compro-
mise the ethics of peace building (ie no experimentation on human subjects,
placing the last rst, doing no harm, and seeing their role as one of public
service that enables locally acceptable forms of peace).
This is problematic also from the internationals own rights and democracy-
based perspective. It effectively denies political agency, as with Pariss
institutionalisation before liberalisationstrategy (which could be said to draw its
heritage from the late period of liberal imperialism, as well as from the likes of
Huntingtons concerns about the dangers of rapid democratisation).
Given that
many conicts relate to material, structural or identity inequalities, these are
obscured by the unwillingness to take seriously the local. In addition many con-
icts also have a self-determination element (which may be secessionist), and
although this is seen to be legitimate in a national sense by internationals, it is
denied where it is partitionist in a local sense. This represents a key form of the
denial of the local, as in Cyprus, or Sudan (until recently). Thus, the evidence is
mounting that denying the local and its rights or historical identity, as well as
preventing justice across the international, as well as history and society, is
designed to naturalise the current international order, to de-emphasise historical
injustice, inequality and social justice, and to maintain executive decision-making
power in the hands of a global elite which is Northern and transnational. Yet such
public transcripts are often not supported in the private transcripts of the interna-
tional civil service of professional and bureaucratic actors, donors, UN agencies,
and INGOs involved in attempting to build peace and the state in the worlds
conict zones, who also couch their roles in terms of local emancipation and
Concluding discussion
Liberal and neoliberal conceptualisations of peace building and state building
are, controversially, only too happy to embrace the language, though rarely the
spirit, of the local turn. The rise of the local ts with a convenient narrative of
the social compact,
where state and society are thought to work together
according to liberal norms, and with resilience, whereby local communities
have adequate coping mechanisms and so only require light touchintervention
that emphasises self-help in a framework of good governance, stability and an
efcient state rather than social provision.
The local turn can thus, in one
analysis, be seen in sympathy with the trimming back of the liberal peace,
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which in turn was also a compromise on more traditional goals of social justice
being the aim of state and society. It appears to be in keeping with the idea of
good enoughgovernance and security, whereby international actors justify the
partial abandonment of universal goals and rights under the cover of apparently
resilient communities. The idea of resilience allows international actors to
abrogate responsibility, while also acknowledging that local actors have agency
and should have ownership.
However, we argue that, because local agency, politics and renderings of
peace are very much present in post-conict environments, the local turn
reopens the debate on power, peace, social justice, the evolving framework and
terms of emancipation, and on who are the subjects in IR. Engaging with the
local, and the ways in which peace is formed in context by local (as well as
international) forces is not to give into the forces of global capitalism or
ontological assumptions of superiority on the part of the West (because of the
structural and governmental power it wields).
Quite the reverse, it is to show
how power circulates, and how legitimacy even in the most obscure local
forums holds it to account. It maintains the possibility of emancipation and
empathy in a local to global framework, drawing on the values, identity and
needs of its subjects, rather than on the benevolentassumptions of national
and global, Marxist, liberal or neoliberal elites, whose centralised narratives of
peace and the role of a vanguard, international institutions or of global markets
have rarely delivered.
The local turn therefore represents an important opportunity in the concep-
tualisation and making of peace. It encourages a reassessment of some of
the parameters that have been used to understand and justify international
interventions. It opens the possibility of a more expansive epistemology that
is able to overcome the articial conceptual boundaries imposed by the
notion of state sovereignty. It encourages us to transcend what Chabal calls
the conceitof established Western modes of thinking that assume that ratio-
nality and superiority are somehow inherent in Northern social sciences. One
implication of the local turn is a retreat from the certainties and binaries that
underpin Western modes of thinking. Contained in the local turn are episte-
mologies and foundational beliefs as valid as dominant modes of Western
thinking. But these localised epistemologies and discourses are distinct from
Western modes of thinking in one important respect: their variance. The
sheer heterogeneity of the sources of localised thinking and expression means
that there is no neat framework of ideas and that any genealogy of a univer-
sal norm or institution will tend to uncover hidden injustices that need to be
rectied. The local turn is characterised by a cacophony of thinking. It might
be messy but it has the capacity to be vibrant and relevant to the communi-
ties from which it emerges. It points the way forward in improving our
understanding of the injustices that cause conict, the naturalisation of
structures and practices (often elite, state, or Northern) that disguise them,
and the reforms that are now required if the limits of Western epistemologies
and methodologies of peace are to become more pluralist. In this way, the
local turn vis-à-vis peace raises a crucial next question: what is the relation-
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ship between power and peace, and how might an emancipatory peace relate
to, or emerge from, power?
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2 P Chabal, The End of Conceit: Western Rationality after Postcolonialism, London: Zed Books, 2012,
p 316.
3 Richmond, Beyond the local.
4 R Bleiker & E Hutchison, Fear no more: emotions and world politics,Review of International Studies,
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5 Cf S Strange, States and Markets, London: Pinter, 1988.
6 M Foucault, Two lectures, in Foucault, Power/Knowledge, London: Pantheon, 1972; Mac Ginty, Interna-
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7 JP Lederach, Preparing for Peace: Conict Transformation Across Cultures, Syracuse, NY: Syracuse
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8 R Paris, Saving liberal peacebuilding,Review of International Studies, 36(2), 2010, pp 337365.
9 SM Uday, Liberalism and Empire, Chicago, IL: Chicago University Press, 1999.
10 Paris, Saving liberal peacebuilding.
11 T Asad (ed), Anthropology and the Colonial Encounter, New York: Humanity Books, 1973.
12 This conceptualisation of power rests on Richmonds work on powers relationship with peace, as
presented in OP Richmond, Failed Statebuilding Versus Peace Formation, New Haven, CT: Yale
University Press, forthcoming 2014.
13 OP Richmond, The romanticisation of the local: welfare, culture and peacebuilding,International Specta-
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Conict, 43(2), 2008, pp 136163.
14 D Chandler, International Statebuilding: The Rise of Post-liberal Governance, London: Routledge, 2010.
15 OP Richmond, Eirenism and a post-liberal peace,Review of International Studies, 35(3), 2009, pp 557
16 Chandler, International Statebuilding.
17 P Smoker, Small peace,Journal of Peace Research, 18(2), 1981, pp 149157.
18 See, for example, Andy Rooneys views on religious nutKenneth Boulding, in A Rooney, 60 Years of
Wit and Wisdom, New York: PublicAffairs, 2010, p 11.
19 H Schmid, Peace research and politics,Journal of Peace Studies, 5(3), 1968, p 221.
20 RW Cox, Social forces, states and world orders: beyond international relations,Millennium, 10, 1981,
pp 121155.
21 D Mitrany, The Functional Theory of Politics, New York: St Martins Press, 1975; and JW Burton, World
Society, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1972.
22 F Fukuyama, The imperative of state-building, Journal of Democracy, 15(2), 2004; and MW Doyle,
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23 M Pugh, The problem-solving and critical paradigms, in R Mac Ginty (ed), Handbook of Peacebuilding,
London: Routledge, 2013, p 14.
24 R Paris, At Wars End: Building Peace after Civil Conict, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004;
Richmond, The Transformation of Peace; NR Cooper, Review article: on the crisis of the liberal peace,
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after Dayton, London: Pluto, 2000.
25 Paris, Saving liberal peacebuilding.
26 D Zaum, Beyond the liberal peace”’,Global Governance, 18, 2012, p 128. Emphasis in the original.
27 J Trindade, Reconciling conict paradigms: an East Timorese vision of the ideal state, in D Mearns (ed),
Democratic Governance in Timor-Leste: Reconciling the Local and the National, Darwin: Charles Darwin
University, 2008, p 166.
28 H Bhabha, Of mimicry and man: the ambivalence of colonial discourse,Discipleship, 28, 1984, pp
125133; GC Spivak, Can the subaltern speak?, in C Nelson & L Grossberg (eds), Marxism and the
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Interpretation of Culture, London: Macmillan, 1998, pp 2428; and LT Smith, Decolonizing Methodolo-
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29 M Foucault, The subject and power,Critical Inquiry, 8(4), 1982, pp 777795; and OP Richmond, A
Post-liberal Peace, London: Routledge, 2012.
30 Richmond, Critical agency, resistance, and a post-colonial civil society.
31 A Varshney, Ethnic Conict and Civic Life: Hindus and Muslims in India, New Haven, CT: Yale Univer-
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32 D Massey, Space, Place and Gender, Minneapolis, MN: Minneapolis University Press, 1994; A
Appadurai, Modernity at Large, Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 1996; and Richmond, A
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33 JA Scholte, Reinventing global democracy,European Journal of International Relations, forthcoming.
Article published online but not yet in print. Available at
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35 TS Hermann, The Israeli Peace Movement, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005.
36 B Grob-Fitzgibbon, Imperial Endgame: Britains Dirty Wars and the End of Empire, Basingstoke: Palgrave
Macmillan, 2011, p 163.
37 Examples from donor-linked institutions include: usip, Empowering Local Peacebuilders: Strategies for
Effective Engagement of Local Actors in Peace Operations, Building Peace no 2, Washington, DC, usip,
March 2012; and usaid Nepal, Local Peacebuilding Approaches: Evaluation report 2011, Washington, DC:
usaid, 2011. Examples from INGOs include C Hayman, Ripples into Waves: Locally led Peacebuilding on
a National Scale, London: Peace Direct/Quaker United Nations Ofce, 2010; and idea, Democracy and
Peacebuilding at the Local Level: Lessons LearnedA Report of the Programme in Democracy and Con-
ict Management, Stockholm: idea, 2005. Examples from academia include CR Mitchell & LE Hancock,
Local Peacebuilding and National Peace: Interaction between Grassroots and Elite Processes, New York:
Continuum, 2012; and T Donais, Peacebuilding and Local Ownership: Post-conict Consensus-building,
London: Routledge, 2012.
38 P Mishra, From the Ruins of Empire: The revolt against the West and remaking of Asia, London: Allen
Lane, 2010.
39 N Klein, The Shock Doctrine, London: Picador, 2012.
40 Mishra, From the Ruins of Empire.
41 Transparency International, Corruption Perceptions Index 2011, at
results/, accessed 1 November 2012.
42 Richmond, The Transformation of Peace.
43 World Bank, World Development Report 2011: Conict, Security and Development, Washington, DC:
World Bank, 2011.
44 JC Scott, Domination and the Arts of Resistance: Hidden Transcripts, New Haven, CT: Yale University
Press, 1990.
45 Bleiker & Hutchison, Fear no more; and IB Neumann, The body of the diplomat,European Journal of
International Relations, 14(4), 2008, pp 671695.
46 J Brewer, Sociology and peacebuilding, in Mac Ginty, Handbook of Peacebuilding, pp 159170.
47 R Chambers, Rural Development: Putting the Last First, London: Longman, 1983.
48 A Escobar, Encountering Development: The Making and Unmaking of the Third World, Princeton, NJ:
Princeton University Press, 1995.
49 Mishra, From the Ruins of Empire.
50 uNISDR,Building a global network of NGOsfor community resilience to disasters, Concept Note, Gen-
eva, 2008, at
NGOs_Concept_Paper.pdf, accessed 2 November 2012.
51 Mac Ginty, Indigenous peacemaking versus the liberal peace.
52 C Moser & A Winton, Violence in the Central American Region: Towards an Integrated Framework for
Violence Reduction, London: odi, 2002, p 56, at
lications-opinion-les/1826.pdf, accessed 2 November 2012.
53 R Mac Ginty, Routine peace: technocracy and peacebuilding,Cooperation and Conict, 47(3), 2012,
pp 287308.
54 Sphere Project, The Sphere Handbook: Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Disaster
Response, London: Sphere Project, 2011.
55 MB Anderson, Do No Harm, Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 1999.
56 Chabal, The End of Conceit.
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57 Chambers, Rural Development.
58 SP Huntington, The Third Wave: Democratization in the Late Twentieth Century, Norman, OK: 1991; and
Paris, At Wars End.
59 World Bank, World Development Report 2011.
60 M Dufeld, How did we become unprepared? From modernist to postmodernist conceptions of disaster,
keynote speech delivered at the Humanitarianism: Past, Present and Futureconference, University of
Manchester, 810 November 2012.
61 A Callinicos, Against Post-modernism, Cambridge: Polity, 1989.
Notes on Contributors
Roger Mac Ginty is Professor of Peace and Conict Studies at the
Humanitarian and Conict Response Institute, and in the Department of Politics,
University of Manchester. His recent books include the edited volume Handbook
on Peacebuilding (2013) and International Peacebuilding and Local Resistance:
Hybrid Forms of Peace (2011). He co-edits the journal Peacebuilding and edits
the Palgrave book series, Rethinking Political Violence.
Oliver P Richmond is a Research Professor in iR, Peace and Conict Studies
at the University of Manchester. He is also International Professor, College of
International Studies, Kyung Hee University, Korea. His publications include A
Post Liberal Peace (2011), Liberal Peace Transitions (with Jason Franks,
2009), Peace in IR (Routledge, 2008) and The Transformation of Peace
(Palgrave, 2005/7). He is editor of the Palgrave book series, Rethinking
Conict Studies, and co-editor of the journal Peacebuilding.
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... 26,27,28 Growing movements in my own field of peace and conflict resolution are also beginning to examine and recognize "everyday" peacebuilding, referring to local people who work with their own definitions, models, approaches and strategies for peace. 29,30 Many of these educators get no recognition for their efforts and might not fit preconceived images of teachers or change-makers. They operate without formal teaching credentials and often facilitate outside of formal school settings at YMCAs, libraries, community centers and other locations. ...
This article examines when, how and why local agreements are used to end violent conflict, drawing on a new global dataset of local agreements. It provides a typology of security functions that local agreements deliver at different stages of the conflict-to-peace cycle, and the types of space they address and create. It examines the relationship of local agreements to national peacemaking processes, arguing that they reveal the nested nature of local, national, transnational, and international conflict in protracted conflict settings. This reality points to the need for a new political imaginary for peace processes design. The conclusion sketches its contours.
Objective/Context: Much of the research on conflict resolution has focused on the conditions for getting parties involved in a conflict to sign a peace agreement. Less attention has been paid to what happens next. In this document, we offer a review of the factors shaping peace agreement implementation (PAI). Methodology: The paper is based on a review of the available academic literature on the factors that shape peace agreement implementation (PAI). Conclusions: We conceive the implementation process as composed of multiple temporal stages (short- to long-term), layers (from international to local), and dimensions (including politics, justice, the economy, and culture). In an implementation phase, all these need to be addressed in parallel, as they exert mutual impact and shape each other’s progress. Originality: The general overview presented here will provide scholars and policymakers with a broad sense of the most important debates within the literature.
Youth views and their engagement within practices of everyday peace(building) are paramount to fostering peace, despite the deadlocks at the elite level negotiations. This article provides a bottom-up approach that recognizes the agency and potency of youth in ‘everyday peace’ by providing a voice to marginalized Cypriot youth. The semi-structured interview findings highlight that the views that Cypriot youth harbour on peace diverge from elite views and focus on societal and practical needs. Accordingly, Cypriot youth’s understanding of peace converges around three interrelated main themes – social cohesion, no discrimination and hatred, and unrestricted freedom of movement – based on frequency in expansive series of youth interviews. This article argues that youth’s priorities and responses bespeak their meaningful contributions to peace through their everyday actions.
As tourism is increasingly portrayed as a means for peacebuilding, the need to study its impact in conflict-ravaged areas has become more acute. Current debates on peace-through-tourism engage critically in such analyses, focusing further on the connection between tourism and socio-spatial (in)equalities, power (im)balances and everyday (in)securities as central elements in the study of peace. Yet the discussion still reinforces normative assumptions by tending to invariably associate community-based tourism with peace outcomes. Hence, paradox-ridden contexts where structural violence and oppression persist even in the presence of grassroots development receive considerably less attention. This article addresses this gap by discussing the case of Urabá, a Colombian region wracked by the armed conflict that has seen a rise in bottom-up tourism initiatives in recent years. Our findings suggest that, despite their perceived peacefulness, tourism spaces have become ‘pockets of security’ where the conditions enabling grassroots tourism are maintained as long as the legal and illegal power structures that are furthering dispossession in the region remain unchallenged. Drawing on insights from peace studies and human geography, we aim at contributing to the burgeoning body of research on peace tourism by proposing a more nuanced understanding of the linkages between tourism, violence, and the spatial reconfigurations that underlie the so-called post-conflict period. Ultimately, we want to encourage more critical analyses of the use of heart-winning discourses that could conceal violent geographies surrounding tourism spaces.
Full-text available
Making peace in "intractable" conflict is a fundamental challenge in the restructuring of the international system toward a postWestphalian international society in which diverse political communities coexist while also preserving their distinctiveness.1 Yet an examination of the development of many approaches to ending conflict indicates that their application may create and recreate a particular international order. Often this is a negative peace that imposes an order based on hegemony, exclusivity, and the erection of political binaries at the local, regional, and global level. In other words, the question of what constitutes peace is never seriously engaged. This article examines how this may occur through existing approaches to ending conflict and what might be done about it. It does so by first reviewing the development of theorizing about approaches to ending conflict through a radical lens in which all approaches to ending conflict might be seen as impositional at various levels, and then reverting to a critical approach in which might be found a universal basis for agreement about how such orderproducing activities can achieve sensitive and mutually inclusive outcomes.
Full-text available
‘Local ownership' and ‘participation’ have become buzzwords for international intervention, whether military, humanitarian or developmental, by the UN, World Bank, agencies or non-governmental organizations. This has been partly to avoid accusations of intrusion and to enhance its legitimacy. Yet, such strategies have often not promoted local ownership in any meaningful way. Rather, they have denied it, confused which (local), and obscured the wider range of meanings of the concept. Internationals claim that they are referring to ‘national’ rather than local ownership because their focus is on a viable state that should become a member of the international community while also providing rights to its citizens. Despite good intentions such understandings of ownership do little to enhance a contextual social contract even if they do create relationships of conditionality between national elites and international donors, though they may indirectly enable the voices of a range of local actors, as this article outlines.
In this fresh and controversial account of Britain's end of empire, Grob-Fitzgibbon reveals that the British government developed a successful strategy of decolonization following the Second World War based on devolving power to indigenous peoples within the Commonwealth.
This concise and accessible new text offers original and insightful analysis of the policy paradigm informing international statebuilding interventions. The book covers the theoretical frameworks and practices of international statebuilding, the debates they have triggered, and the way that international statebuilding has developed in the post-Cold War era. Spanning a broad remit of policy practices from post-conflict peacebuilding to sustainable development and EU enlargement, Chandler draws out how these policies have been cohered around the problematization of autonomy or self-government. Rather than promoting democracy on the basis of the universal capacity of people for self-rule, international statebuilding assumes that people lack capacity to make their own judgements safely and therefore that democracy requires external intervention and the building of civil society and state institutional capacity. Chandler argues that this policy framework inverses traditional liberal-democratic understandings of autonomy and freedom - privileging governance over government - and that the dominance of this policy perspective is a cause of concern for those who live in states involved in statebuilding as much as for those who are subject to these new regulatory frameworks. Encouraging readers to reflect upon the changing understanding of both state-society relations and of the international sphere itself, this work will be of great interest to all scholars of international relations, international security and development.
How did the industrialized nations of North America and Europe come to be seen as the appropriate models for post-World War II societies in Asia, Africa, and Latin America? How did the postwar discourse on development actually create the so-called Third World? And what will happen when development ideology collapses? To answer these questions, Arturo Escobar shows how development policies became mechanisms of control that were just as pervasive and effective as their colonial counterparts. The development apparatus generated categories powerful enough to shape the thinking even of its occasional critics while poverty and hunger became widespread. "Development" was not even partially "deconstructed" until the 1980s, when new tools for analyzing the representation of social reality were applied to specific "Third World" cases. Here Escobar deploys these new techniques in a provocative analysis of development discourse and practice in general, concluding with a discussion of alternative visions for a postdevelopment era. Escobar emphasizes the role of economists in development discourse--his case study of Colombia demonstrates that the economization of food resulted in ambitious plans, and more hunger. To depict the production of knowledge and power in other development fields, the author shows how peasants, women, and nature became objects of knowledge and targets of power under the "gaze of experts." In a substantial new introduction, Escobar reviews debates on globalization and postdevelopment since the book's original publication in 1995 and argues that the concept of postdevelopment needs to be redefined to meet today's significantly new conditions. He then calls for the development of a field of "pluriversal studies," which he illustrates with examples from recent Latin American movements. © 1995 by Princeton University Press. 1995 by Princeton University Press.
This article seeks to unpack the implications of technocracy for contemporary peace-building. It aims to illustrate how the bureaucratic imperative explains much about the ascendancy of certain actors to positions of prominence on the peace-building landscape, and the types of activities that these actors engage in. In line with world polity theory, it is interested in the construction and institutionalization of discourses, understandings, expectations and practices of peace-building. It argues that there has been a 'technocratic turn' in relation to peace-building, whereby there has been a gradual but persistent trend towards the application of technocracy in the framing of conflict and approaches to it. Two key claims advanced on behalf of technocracy - neutrality and efficiency - are discussed. The article then argues that a complex mix of structural and proximate factors have reinforced the technocratic turn in peace-building. It concludes by considering the extent to which the discursive framing of conflict by key actors predetermines their conflict response. The article is primarily an exercise in conceptual scoping, though it can also be read as a contribution to the critique of the liberal peace and considerations of resistance and agency in peace-building contexts.