Justice and security

Who Keeps the Peace? Reconceptualizing Peacebuilding Through Networks of Influence and Support

East Africa
American University
Democratic Republic of Congo

International peacekeeping, peacebuilding, and development actors are increasingly focusing their efforts in conflict-affected states. In any single fragile or conflict-affected country, there are dozens, if not hundreds, of international actors operating with the aim of building peace, preventing violent extremism, reducing poverty, saving lives, or rebuilding infrastructure that was destroyed by conflict. They are connected to each other and to domestic state and non-state actors through formal contracts, informal relationships, and regular coordination meetings. Existing scholarship on international intervention in conflict-affected states largely ignores these networks and contractual relationships, instead treating all intervening actors as a single monolith, investigating only the behavior of a single type of intervenor, such as peacekeepers, or identifying the impact of a single peacebuilding intervention (Doyle and Sambanis, 2000, 2006; Fortna, 2008; Autesserre, 2009, 2010, 2014; Narang, 2014; Blair et al., 2016). We argue that it is important to redress this gap in the literature by examining the effect of networks among intervening actors and their domestic counterparts, on peace and security outcomes in conflict-affected states. We outline a new research agenda and present a theory of how variation in network diversity and the centrality of UN peace operations in these networks are likely to influence their achievement of peace and security outcomes.

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