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date: 03 August 2020

Peacemaking, Peacekeeping, and Peacebuilding

Summary and Keywords

Peacemaking, peacekeeping, and peacebuilding have generated considerable interest in the areas of education, research, and politics. This can be attributed in part to the growing recognition that there are limits to violence and that proactive violence prevention is more cost-effective than reactive conflict prevention. Peacebuilding became part of the official discourse when the United Nations Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali introduced the concept of post-conflict peacebuilding in the Agenda for Peace. The agenda specified four areas of action relating to preventive diplomacy, peacemaking, peacekeeping, and peacebuilding. Two important documents have helped bring peacebuilding to the mainstream: the 2000 Brahimi Report, a response to the failures of complex UN peacekeeping in the 1990s, and In Larger Freedom: Towards Development, Security and Human Rights, which led to the establishment of the Peacebuilding Commission. Conflict prevention and peacebuilding have also been mainstreamed in the European Union and in most of the foreign offices of the member states. A central focus of studies on peacebuilding is the interrelationships between peacemaking, political change, development, peacekeeping, and reconciliation. Despite the progress made in terms of research, there are a number of gaps and challenges that still need to be addressed. Many analysts, for example, leave the end state vague and implicit and make no systematic differentiation between different types of peace. With respect to context, two salient issues require more attention: the qualities of a peacebuilder and the role of integrative power. The widest research gap is found in the planning of the peacebuilding process.

Keywords: peacemaking, peacekeeping, peacebuilding, conflict prevention, preventive diplomacy, political change, development, reconciliation, United Nations


Mainstreaming Peace

Peacemaking, peacekeeping, and peacebuilding may not have the punch and the means of national security, but they are receiving an increasing amount of attention in education, research, and politics. There are a growing number of Master and PhD programs, new publications, and more research at universities and think tanks. The number of peer-reviewed journals covering different facets of peacebuilding has doubled since 1992. Peacebuilding has become embedded in the organizational theory and praxis of national governments, nongovernmental organizations, and regional and global intergovernmental organizations. It became part of the official discourse when the UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali (1992) introduced the concept of post-conflict peacebuilding in the Agenda for Peace. The agenda specified four areas of action, which taken together, were presented as a coherent contribution towards securing peace:

(1) preventive diplomacy is action to prevent disputes from arising between the parties, to prevent existing disputes from escalating into conflicts and to limit the spread of the latter when they occur, (2) peacemaking is action to bring hostile parties to agreement, essentially through such peaceful means as those foreseen in Chapter VI of the Charter, (3) peacekeeping is the deployment of a United Nations military and civilian presence in the field to expand the possibilities for both the prevention of the conflict and the making of peace, and (4) peacebuilding is action to identify and support structures which will tend to strengthen and solidify peace in order to avoid a relapse into conflict.

The 2000 Brahimi Report, a response to the failures of complex UN peacekeeping in the 1990s, was an attempt to improve the theory and praxis of peacebuilding. Another report entitled In Larger Freedom: Towards Development, Security and Human Rights, presented in 2005 to Kofi Annan by the High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change, led to the establishment of the Peacebuilding Commission. Its aim was to draft long-term strategies to guarantee reconstruction, institution building, and sustainable development. Conflict prevention and peacebuilding have also been mainstreamed in the European Union and in most of the foreign offices of the member states. The European Union, itself a successful case of sustainable peacebuilding, affirmed the importance of peacebuilding in a series of EU documents, such as the Communication from the Commission to the Council on the European Union and the Issues of the Conflicts in Africa: Peace Building, Conflict Prevention and Beyond, of March 6, 1996. Since then, European capacity to deal with peacebuilding has been considerably enhanced (2008). Most regional intergovernmental organizations now have departments for peacemaking, peacekeeping, and peacebuilding.

Political and Intellectual Drivers

As a result of several changes in the political landscape, attention began to be paid to peacemaking, peacekeeping, and peacebuilding. There was the unprecedented increase of intrastate conflicts after the Cold War, when several frozen conflicts turned violent. Globalization raised human insecurity in developing, transitional, and rich and powerful countries. Increases in expenditure on defense and antiterrorist operations reflect the perception that we live in a more threatening world. Globalization has brought with it a large, unregulated arms bazaar, easier spillover of intrastate conflicts, and feelings of relative deprivation and fear. Some peacekeeping missions of the UN turned into failures, which led to a search for more effective and better-coordinated peacebuilding intervention strategies. Finally, there is a growing recognition that there are limits to violence and that proactive violence prevention is more cost-effective than reactive conflict prevention. Brown and Rosecrance (1999) contributed to this awareness by calculating concrete costs and benefits.

The research community moved into this field of study because it is jointly responsible for the building of a more sustainable, secure, and peaceful world. There is also the appeal of critical theory which is emancipatory and has a strong distrust of the coopting and misuse of peace-related concepts and methods to further domination. This means interrogating the concept of peace during the peace process and challenging the hegemonic discourse of peacebuilding theory and practice (Lambourne 2004a; Mac Ginty 2006), and also acknowledging the violence of nonintervention and sometimes the irresponsibility of protecting (Chopra 1999). Finally, although the field is still dominated by researchers from the Northwest, the peace research community is becoming more democratic and has been enriched by the input of scholars from other parts of the world.

Widening and Deepening Peacebuilding

In the academic discourse, the meaning of the term “peacebuilding” has become broader; it now tends to cover all activities undertaken before, during, or after a violent conflict to prevent, end, and/or transform violent conflicts and to create the necessary conditions for sustainable peace. Peacemaking and peacekeeping are part of the peacebuilding process.

The desire for a sustainable, stable, durable, viable, lasting, self-enforcing, and perpetual peace is universal. In the footsteps of Immanuel Kant, and following the preliminary and definitive preconditions for perpetual peace, a great number of peace researchers have focused on sustainable peace. For Boulding (1978), the pursuit of stable peace is the object of peace policy.

Peacebuilding research has been nurtured in the extensive literature on conflict resolution by Johan Galtung, John Burton, Adam Curle, Karl Deutsch, Elise and Kenneth Boulding, Chadwick Alger, Louis Kriesberg, Chris Mitchell, Edward Azar, Herbert Kelman, and many others. The fusion of the two commissions on international conflict resolution and on peacebuilding during the global conference of the International Peace Research Association (IPRA) in Valetta, Malta in 1994 illustrated the synergies between research on conflict resolution and on peacebuilding. Researchers of peacebuilding focus on the bigger picture of peacebuilding and on the interconnections between peace negotiations, peacekeeping, the installation of peace-enhancing political, economic and security structures, and the transformation of the moralpolitical climate. They recognize the added value of an appreciative inquiry of conflict transformation, including the envisioning of a common future and the study of the “root causes of success” (Boulding 1991; Sampson et al. 2003). Criss-crossing the literature, one finds several hidden or explicitly stated theoretical assumptions, such as the following. (1) The global approach, which is seen as necessary to conceive of our global situation as part and parcel of our individual existence as human beings (Fischer et al. 1989; Booth 2007). (2) The holistic, integrating, or transdisciplinary approach, in which compartmental thinking is incompatible with an understanding of the complexity and the cross-impacts between the many activities taking place in the peacebuilding process. Peace cannot be reduced to diplomacy, politics, economy, or security, but is the result of the synergy of efforts in different sectors (Alger 2007). Systems thinking is back (Wils et al. 2006). (3) The critical approach, where researchers have gone beyond positivist/empirical approaches and made more space for normative, critical, and post-positivist theories. Reflection on the mental models, cosmologies, or deep ideologies which inform the research work is part of the work. Galtung (1981), Fischer et al. (1989), and Senge et al. (1994) stress the importance of reflecting on the usually unquestioned assumptions about all kinds of things and how they relate to each other. Peace is not only an operational reality, but also a social construct. A major task of social constructionism is to uncover the ways in which individuals and groups participate in the creation of their perceived and preferred reality. (4) The intellectual solidarity approach, which holds the conviction that peace research would benefit from (a) a better exchange of knowledge and know-how between researchers, practitioners, decision makers, and citizens, and (b) domination-free scientific discourse and analysis (Reychler and Carmans 2006; Reychler and Langer 2006; Verkoren 2008).

Preventive Diplomacy and Peacemaking

Both preventive diplomacy and peacemaking are key components of peacebuilding. The aim of preventive diplomacy is to prevent violence and escalation in time, space, and intensity. Peacemaking aims to end violence and to get a peace agreement. Ramcharan (2008) offers a comprehensive examination of the evolution of preventive diplomacy and its tools at the UN. Special attention is given to the practice of preventive diplomacy by the Security Council, the Secretary-General, and the representatives of the Secretary-General and the UN subregional offices. Barry Steiner (2004) goes further back in history to the beginning of the nineteenth century and researches the potential of major states working together in the practice of preventive diplomacy between small state antagonists. He describes two types of preventive diplomacy: collective intervention, which defuses the conflict between the primary antagonists in conciliatory or coercive fashion, and collective insulation, which, unrelated in itself to the needs of the primary conflict parties, defuses the conflict as an irritant to great power relations and tries to head off unilateral intervention. At the beginning of the 1990s, before peacebuilding became mainstreamed in international politics, conflict and crisis prevention was a fashionable political and research topic. A great deal of time was invested in the development of early warning systems, the understanding of successful and less successful peace negotiation and mediation efforts, and the refinement of unofficial diplomacy.

Early Warning

The work done at the University of Maryland by Gurr and Harff (1994), and at the RAND Arroyo Center by Tellis et al. (1997), exemplified the development of early warning systems. They made use of correlation, sequential, response, and conjectural models. Gurr’s anticipation of communal conflict was a correlation model, while Harff’s anticipation of genocide and politicide was both a correlation and a sequential one. The variables include international and internal background conditions, intervening conditions, and accelerators. Response models were developed by Fein (1993) and Tellis et al. (1997). Conjectural models specify alternative sequences or scenarios of events.

All these efforts produced a variety of warning lights and alarm bells. The problem, however, was that early warning did not easily translate into early and effective action. In addition, there was a series of blind spots in the early warning research. Most of the variables used were hard rather than soft variables, such as private perceptions and emotions. Attention was focused on anticipating threats rather than anticipating opportunities to intervene. Finally, practically no attention was paid to anticipating the negative and positive impacts of well-intentioned interventions in the conflict dynamics and peacebuilding process. Anderson (1999) was one of the first analysts who warned the international community about the negative consequences of well-intentioned interventions. This started the development of methodologies for anticipating the impact of military and nonmilitary interventions on the conflict-transformation and peacebuilding process.

Peace Negotiations and Peacemaking

Peace negotiation, peacemaking, and mediation are efforts to bring the conflicting parties to a peace agreement. Many researchers have addressed the question “Why do peace agreements fail or succeed?” emphasizing how the process, the accord itself, and the implementation process affect the possibilities of achieving a durable peace. Examples of this are the research of Hampson, Crocker, Aall, Walter, Stedman, Rothchild, Höglund, Lederach, Darby and Mac Ginty, Berkovitz, and Zartman. On the basis of a comparative study of five cases, Hampson (1996) puts forward four possible answers to explain success: the international nurturance of the peace process, the ripeness of the conflict or the desire of the parties to make peace, systemic regional power balances that enhance peace, and the quality of the peace agreement itself, in particular the inclusion of appropriate power-sharing arrangements. Crocker et al. (2004) stressed the pros and cons of multiparty negotiations in large-scale intractable conflicts. For Walter (2002) the key variable to explaining successful implementation of a peace agreement is a third-party security guarantee defined by an implicit or explicit promise given by an outside power to protect adversaries during the treaty implementation period. Stedman et al. (2002) studied several recurrent problems constraining the successful implementation of peace agreements: vague and expedient peace agreements, the lack of coordination between mediators and implementers of agreements, the incomplete fulfillment of mandated tasks, the short-time perspective and limited commitment of implementers, and the presence of spoilers – actors who use violence to undermine implementation. Höglund (2008) studied the impact of high-profile incidents (the assassination of a high-ranking person, a mass casualty attack, a symbolic attack on the identity of a party to the conflict, and a symbolic attack on the peace process) on the dynamics of the negotiation process. Lederach (1997) showed the limits of the traditional official peacemaking approaches and offered a new way of dealing with peacemaking that is more holistic, aims at restoring and rebuilding relationships, and stresses the importance of an elicitive process and of engaging multilevel leadership. Darby and Mac Ginty’s (2008) contribution to peacemaking is their comprehensive or big picture approach to the many activities which take place in the name of peacemaking: preparing for peace, the negotiation process, the impact of violence, the peace accord, and the implementation and postwar reconstruction. Zartman (1995) argued that violent conflicts are ripe for a negotiated settlement when there is a hurting stalemate and Bercovitch (1996) studied the impact of different types of mediation on the success or failure of peace negotiations.

The second question occupying many researchers is: “What are the alternatives to traditional official negotiation?” Burton (1969), Fisher and Ury (1981), Azar (1990), Kelman (1992), Rothman (1992), Mitchell and Banks (1996), Cooperrider and Whitney (1999), and others developed different types of track two, or citizen, diplomacy. This is a specific kind of informal diplomacy, in which nonofficials engage in dialogue, with the aim of resolving conflict and building confidence. Burton promoted the problem-solving workshop. Fisher and Ury distilled a set of principles which led to more effective and integrative resolution of conflicts. Cooperrider and Whitney drew attention to the potential applications of appreciative inquiry in peacebuilding, a methodology that pays a great deal of attention to a forward-looking orientation (envisioning what might be) and uncovering the positive peacebuilding capacity. Diamond and McDonald (1996) expanded track two into ten separate tracks: government, professional conflict resolution, business, private citizen, research, training and education, activism, religion, funding, and media or public opinion. Another strand of researchers explored traditional and indigenous approaches to peacemaking. Augsburger (1992) concluded his research with the observation that “so called primitive societies often have conflict solutions that are more effective in bonding adversaries and blending goals than those groups who designate themselves as advanced, developed, or possessing far more data on human relations.”

These research findings contribute to a better understanding of successful and failed peacemaking efforts. They also remind us of the close interconnection between peacemaking and other ways to build peace. Many analysts focus on one or more pet variables at the expense of a more systematic and comprehensive study of the relation between peacemaking and peacebuilding. Finally, most of the research is still conceived from the perspective of strong and rich countries and has not been reviewed by colleagues from weak and poor states.

Peacekeeping and Support Operations

Peacekeeping developed in the 1950s as part of what Dag Hammarsjköld called preventive diplomacy. Later it became an essential component of conflict prevention and of peacebuilding. Since then, the number of peacekeepers and keeping operations has increased, especially since the end of the Cold War. The new interventionism was characterized by the number and changing nature of peace operations. Analysts distinguish two or more types or generations of peace operations. The two most prevalent are: (1) the traditional “peacekeeping operations” that are backed by the UN Security Council, have the consent of the parties in the conflict, operate within a limited mandate (self-defense and defense of the mandate), and act with impartiality; and (2) “peace support operations” that don’t need the consent of the conflicting parties, are not necessarily neutral, are impartial to the mandate, and can make use of the full spectrum of force to fulfill tasks such as countering peace spoilers and applying pressure for the peace operation to succeed, assisting interim civil authorities, protecting humanitarian relief operations, and guaranteeing or denying movement, etc. (Ramsbotham et al. 2006). Some authors, confusingly, include in this last type of peace operations a variety of different kinds of mechanisms, such as second- and third-generation peacekeeping, humanitarian intervention, complex peace operations, wider peacekeeping, peace enforcement, peace support operations, peace maintenance, etc. This is not primarily the result of intellectual laziness on the part of researchers or practitioners. Virtually any one has a personal sense of what peace operations are, but they are usually perceived as activities with extremely flexible boundaries (MacQueen 2006).

The research of peace operations focuses on several dimensions: (1) the peacekeeping and support tasks, (2) the difficult strategic environment, (3) contributors and motivations, (4) factors influencing success or failure, and (5) interconnections with the other activities of the peacebuilding process.

Peacekeeping and Peace Support Tasks

Researchers such as Chopra (1999), Berdal and Economides (2007), and MacQueen (2006) have analyzed the experiences and lessons learned, which led to the development of new types of peace operations and efforts to improve the international and regional organization. Most of the findings are based on thorough analysis of successful and less successful case studies, such as Cambodia, the Former Yugoslavia, Somalia, Rwanda, Haiti, East Timor, Kosovo, and Sierra Leone. Jeong (2005) offers an overview of confidence and security-building measures that are needed to create an environment conducive to good governance and development: (1) confidence building by means of effective international verification measures, (2) demobilization, disarmament and reintegration (DDR), (3) building local capacity to enforce peace, (4) building a local police force to bring their law enforcement up to international standards, and (5) demilitarization of the internal security system.

Hazardous Operational Theaters

Analysts also identified the characteristics of the war zones which complicate the peace operations seriously. Stedman (1997) observes that peacekeepers can fall prey to spoiler leaders or parties who believe that peace emerging from negotiations threatens their power, worldview, and interests, and use violence to undermine attempts to achieve it. Zahar (2008) added to the spoiler debate by focusing on the spoilers’ intent, opportunities, and capability. Others focused on warlords, militias, paramilititary, and armies seeking control of resources through plundering, terror, and force. Duffield (2001) identified war-zone economies where civilians are a resource base to be corralled, plundered, and killed. Nordstrom (2004) described the process whereby dirty war becomes the means by which economies of violence fuse with what she calls “cultures of violence.” In most conflict zones organized crime crosses borders and has severe effects on peace and law enforcement (Giraldo and Trinkunas 2006).

Contributors and Motivations

Another part of the research deals with the question “Why so few troops from among so many?” Despite the fact that there has been an increase in peace operations, one cannot deny that the demand continues to exceed the supply. Planners are faced with considerable difficulties finding appropriate military personnel to man and sustain missions (Daniel 2008a). Among the top 10 contributors to UN peacekeeping operations (blue helmets) between 2001 and 2005 were Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, Nigeria, Ghana, Jordan, Nepal, Uruguay, and Ukraine (Heldt 2008). Daniel (2008b:228–9) lists possible national motivations for contributing to peace operations: a sense of international obligation, regional ethos, prestige, repayment of a favor from a major power, outlet for surplus military capacity, remunerations, the desire for training and equipment, burden sharing, and better control of their own destiny. Kerr (2007) looks at moral and humanitarian motivations, such as concerns about human insecurity and the “responsibility to protect.” Marten (2004) observes that the international community has been reluctant to commit the necessary resources to support and maintain peaceful rule. She compares the motives for colonialism a century ago with the motives for complex peace operations, and concludes that, despite their differences, both were pursued for a combination of national interest and humanitarianism. Politically, the responsibility to protect is not widely accepted in developing countries.

Successes and Failures

Reports inside and outside the UN have identified (f)actors which contributed to failed peace operations, as in Somalia (1992–5) and Rwanda (1993–4). The Brahimi Report of 2000 put forward a wide-ranging set of recommendations. In 2005, the UN High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change identified a series of weaknesses and offered recommendations, such as the five criteria of legitimacy that the Security Council (and anyone else involved in these decisions) should always address in considering whether to authorize or apply military force (seriousness of threat, proper purpose, last resort, proportional means, and balance of consequences), and in the creation of a peacebuilding commission. The main task of the latter is to draft long-term strategies and to facilitate the coordination of conflict prevention, mediation, peacekeeping, and all the other efforts needed for peacebuilding. All the peace operations have been evaluated. Among the shortcomings of the UN mission in Liberia in 1999 (UNAMSIL), for example, Wilkinson (2000a; 2000b) mentions a peacekeeping and not peace enforcement mandate, poorly equipped and trained troops, the lack of a “lead nation” to coordinate command and control structures, and inadequate support from the UN headquarters in New York. In the discourse on the causes of success and failure, attention has also been focused on the integration of long-term security concerns from the start (Jeong 2005), the effects of body bags and CNN coverage, the four pathologies of peace operations (Farrell 2007), the negative impact of HIV (Elbe 2007), the preoccupation with exit strategies and fear of operation creep, the dilemma of selectivity, the violence of nonintervention (Chopra 1999), and civil–military cooperation (CIMIC).

Peacebuilding Architecture

Peacebuilding is about complex change; it involves concurrent activities by many people in different sectors, at several levels, in different time-scapes, and in different layers. Depending on the conflict, peacebuilding deals with actors at the local, middle, top, and international levels; it looks for synergies between the multiple transformations in diplomatic, political, economic, security, social, psychological, legal, educational, and many other sectors; it involves short-, medium-, and long-term activities, and impacts on institutional, behavioral, perceptual, and emotional layers. A tremendous amount of research has been produced in different disciplines (international relations, political sciences, strategy and security, economics, law, anthropology, psychology, humanitarian assistance studies, ecology, etc.). The work has been carried out under a great variety of headings, such as peacebuilding, conflict prevention, conflict resolution and transformation, security building, and nation building (Dobbins et al. 2003; 2005; 2007). This is due to the different backgrounds of the contributors, the compartmentalization of the academic environment, and the favorable political resonance of different labels. The research relates to six major components of the theory and praxis of peacebuilding architecture: (1) the end state, (2) the baseline, (3) the context, (4) the planning of the peacebuilding process, (5) the peacebuilding coordination, and (6) the monitoring and evaluation.

The End State

The end state can be defined as the set of required conditions that defines achievement of the peace one wants to build. Without a clear operational definition of peace, it is impossible to develop a good theory about how to achieve it. As Mark Twain observed “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.”

Definition of Peace

Do the researchers provide clear operational definitions of the peace they are studying? What types of peace are distinguished? What necessary conditions for peacebuilding have they identified? How valid is their theory? The definition of peace should be clear and the theory used valid. In a great deal of research work, the end state is left vague and undefined. Analysts define peace as a preferred reality (end state) in terms of negative and positive peace indicators and/or make a distinction between sustainable and less sustainable types of peace. Sustainable peace, for example, has been framed in terms of (1) outcome characteristics, such as the absence of armed violence, the near absence of other types of violence (structural, psychological and cultural), the handling of conflicts in a constructive way, and a high level of internal and external legitimacy of the achieved peace; (2) the resolution of the root causes of the conflict; and (3) the successful installation of the necessary conditions or peacebuilding blocks for sustainable peace.

Peacebuilding Blocks

Most researchers see peacebuilding as the result of transformations in multiple sectors. Chesterman (2004) studies state building as one of many other activities necessary for peacebuilding. Paris (1997) focuses on two peace-enhancing conditions: marketization and democratization. Cousens et al. (2000) specify five objectives of peacebuilding: a self-enforcing ceasefire (the armed conflict, just settled, will not recur), a self-enforcing peace (new armed conflicts will not occur), democracy, justice, and equity. Caplan (2005:256) divides the chief functions of the transition administrations into “the establishment and maintenance of internal order and security; repatriation and reintegration of internally displaced persons and refugees; performance of basic civil administrative functions; development of local institutions and the building of civil society; economic reconstruction and development.” Pugh (2000:129) defines peacebuilding as a sustainable process having as its main purpose the prevention of threats to human security, which cause protracted violent conflict. Human security implies the need for intervening in the domains of political security and governance, community security and societal stability, personal security and human rights, and, lastly, economic security. Mason and Meernik (2006) define peace as a combination of negative peace and positive peace. The latter involves a transformation of the conflict by means of democratization efforts, the establishment of truth commissions, the establishment of security, and long-term economic and social development. Jeong (2005) highlights four peacebuilding pillars: security and demilitarization, political transition, development, and reconciliation and social rehabilitation. Orr (2004) distinguishes four interrelated sets of tasks to rebuild countries and win the peace: security, governance and participation, social and economic well-being, and justice and reconciliation. Darby and Mac Ginty (2008) pay attention to peacemaking, demobilization, disarmament and reconstruction, democratization and power sharing, refugees, and negotiating how to deal with past human rights violations. Ryan (2007) stresses the importance of peacemaking, reconciliation, political transformation, development, and sentimental education. In his study of nation building, Dobbins et al. (2007) list five challenges related to the security, humanitarian, civil administration, democratization, and economic reconstruction conditions. Reychler’s (2004) sustainable peacebuilding pentagon conveys the importance of (1) an effective system of communication, consultation and negotiation at different levels; (2) peacebuilding political, economic, and security structures – called the hardware; (3) an integrative moral-political climate – called the software; (4) other systems (legal, educational, media, humanitarian) supporting the peacebuilding process; and (5) a supportive international neighborhood. For these conditions to be realized, peacebuilding leadership is paramount.

An urgent task for the research community is to distill from this vast, but scattered, reservoir of knowledge a valid and comprehensive theory of peacebuilding. This will not be easy, because (1) several analysts do not use an operational definition of peace – the meaning of peace in “peacebuilding” needs to be made explicit, and different types of peace should be differentiated in a systematic and theoretically sound way; (2) there are wide differences in the content and the weight attached to the peacebuilding conditions – a systematic analysis of these differences would benefit the academic discourse considerably; (3) despite the fact that the analysts recognize the importance of an integrated analytic framework for understanding the complex dynamic process of peacebuilding, most end up by describing the peacebuilding activities made in different sectors separately. There is more multidisciplinary than transdisciplinary research. This could be attributed to methodological difficulties associated with studying dynamic interactions between multiple transitions, but also to reality, where peacebuilding tends to boil down to a compilation of peacebuilding measures and efforts designed and implemented by different departments or actors.

The Baseline

The baseline is the situation at the starting point of a peacebuilding intervention. Before planning the intervention, it is important to conduct an accurate analysis of the conflict and of the peacebuilding deficiencies and potential.

Conflict Analysis and Prognosis

The literature is flooded with all kinds of models to analyze and anticipate conflicts. These models require information about the parties involved, the issues, the positions, the alternatives to a negotiated agreement, the conflict environment, the strategic thinking of the parties, the current interaction, the legacy, and the costs and benefits. Despite the availability of these analytic and anticipatory tools, problems continue to hamper accurate analysis. There is a lack of accurate information about nonarmed violence and the complex dynamics of conflicts. Violence tends to be defined narrowly and information about second- and third-class victims is difficult to find. Another problem relates to the exclusion of parties from the analysis of the conflict. Exclusion is an obstacle to a comprehensive understanding of the conflict, which should involve empathy and a recognition of the distinctive cultural understandings of the conflict and its resolution, which have to be clarified, elucidated, and enhanced through reflection and dialogue. Lederach (1997) calls this the elicitive approach. Third, the discourse is loaded with confusing terms, such as “conflict prevention,” “terrorism,” “post-conflict situation,” “peacekeeping,” “regime change,” “self-defense,” etc., which complicate good diagnosis. Fourth, it is difficult to find data on the profits and profiteers of violent conflicts. Finally, peacebuilding research is still lacking in adequate conflict differentiation. A positive contribution to the analysis of the baseline has been the measurement of the difficulty of the conflict. The difficulty of a conflict has been labeled as “deep rooted” (Burton 1987), “protracted” (Azar 1990), or “intractable” (Burgess and Burgess 2009). Stedman’s (2001) factors that are commonly associated with a difficult conflict are the presence of spoilers, neighboring states that are hostile to the agreement, a large number of soldiers, valuable natural resources, and secession-oriented conflict. Caplan (2005) correlates difficulty with the clarity and appeal of operational objectives. Chesterman (2004) links clarity of purpose to success. For Doyle (2002), hostile or incoherent factions are obstacles for peacebuilding operations. Reychler and Langer (2006) monitor seven clusters of variables to assess the degree of difficulty: the parties involved, the issues, the conflict styles, the internal opportunity structure, the legacy of the conflict, the internal readiness for peace, and the external involvement and support of the peace process.

Peacebuilding Deficiency Assessment

To evaluate the relevance of peacebuilding efforts, a comparison has to be made between the situation at the start of the intervention and the necessary conditions to realize the envisaged peace. The quality of peacebuilding deficiency assessment depends on the clarity of the definition of peace, the validity of the peacebuilding theory, and the availability of reliable information. There are checklists for assessing the quality of the peace negotiation process, the accord, and the implementation (Reychler et al. 2008) and the same is true for deficiencies related to political legitimacy, good governance, genuine democracy, freedoms, human rights, gender democracy, and consolidation (see Freedom House, International Institute for Electoral Democracy and Electoral Assistance (EDEA)). The economy of peace focuses on human development, poverty, vertical and horizontal inequality, trust and economic expectation, greed and grievance (Collier and Hoeffler 2001), relative deprivation, and the politico-economic perspectives of young populations. An important contribution to assessment of horizontal inequality has been made by the research team of Stewart (2008). Horizontal inequalities are inequalities in economic, social, or political dimensions or cultural status between culturally defined groups. In many countries, researching horizontal inequality between identity groups is considered risky and politically incorrect and is therefore not done. In security assessment, there are indicators of internal and external security, human security, demobilization, disarmament, social and military integration, modernization of the military forces, modernization and demilitarization of the police, and multilateral or cooperative security. The moral-political environment is more difficult to assess because it requires data on (1) hope-raising measures, (2) the development of a we-ness feeling and multiple loyalties, (3) dealing with the past and reconciliation, (4) trust, (5) social capital, and (6) the dismantlement of senti-mental walls. Senti-mental walls are attitudes and feelings, perceptions and expectations, causal analyses and attributions of responsibility, strategic analyses, values, preferences, taboos, and social psychological pressures (such as conformity pressure, group-think, and political correctness) which stand in the way of sustainable peacebuilding. The yoking of “sentiment” and “mental” is intended to make people aware that mental walls tend to be reinforced by emotions and that efforts to dismantle them tend to be confronted with different kinds of emotional resistance. Moïsi (2008) describes how the cultures of fear, humiliation, and hope shape today’s world. Lindner (2006; 2009) deals with emotions, especially humiliation in conflict and peacebuilding. For Wallensteen (2002), the agenda of peace is formed by trauma and hopes. For the fourth cluster of peace conditions, there are checklists assessing transitional, retributive, and restorative justice, the role of the media, peace education, and humanitarian aid. The fifth cluster of multilateral support looks at positive and negative roles enacted by external governmental and nongovernmental actors. Remarkably, a great number of analysts focus on the domestic scene and its close neighborhood. The donor community has the propensity to overlook or underestimate the role of the global international political and economic environment, especially the impact of imbalances of institutionalized military, political, economic, and cultural power and the roles of lobbies, interest groups, diasporas, and extralegal arms, drugs, and people dealers, Falk (1999) and Mearsheimer and Walt (2006) deal with these. Some label such research as politically incorrect, others as critical and emancipatory. In any case, conflict analysis and peacebuilding deficiency assessment would benefit from domination-free discourse and analysis.

Peacebuilding Potential

Lederach (1997), Anderson (1999), and others stress the importance of identifying the available and potential peacebuilding socio-economic and socio-cultural resources.

The Context

The lack of universal formulae and the complexity of conflicts requires the development of a high level of context sensitivity. It requires a deep appreciation of the impact of the context on the peacebuilding process and vice versa. Contextual judgment can be more important than knowledge of the 10 best peacebuilding practices in other situations. The contextual features are: scope, time, preservation, diversity, capability, capacity, readiness for change, and power (Balogun and Hailey 1999). Scope: Does the change affect the whole country as well as all sectors and levels, or does it impact only on part of the country or a particular sector? Does peace imply a radical transformation, a reconstruction or a realignment of the situation? Time: How much time does the peacebuilder have to build peace? Are the stakeholders expecting short-term results from the intervention? Do they see their intervention as crisis management or as a long-term peacebuilding process? Efforts have been undertaken to integrate crisis management with peacebuilding. Preservation: To what extent is it essential to maintain continuity in certain practices or preserve specific assets? Do these practices and/or assets constitute invaluable resources, or do they contribute towards a valued stability or identity within a country? One of the mistakes made by Paul Bremer (Director of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance for postwar Iraq) was to disband the Iraqi army and equate the Baath party with Saddam Hussein. Diversity: Is the group of actors involved in the peacebuilding process diverse or relatively homogeneous in terms of its values, norms, and attitudes? Are there many cultures or subcultures within the country? Are there conflicting and common interests? Ramsbotham et al. (2006) differentiate three types of response of peace researchers to the cultural variation in conflict zones: not relevant, should be taken into account, and is fundamentally significant in peacebuilding. Capability: How capable or competent are the peace builders at managing the peacebuilding process? Are the necessary kinds of expertise (internal and/or external) available? Is there enough expertise at the policy, management, and individual levels? Ingelstam (2001), Perrigo and Pearce (2005), and Fitzduff (2005) have been researching the qualifications expected and required of those involved in peacebuilding activities. Related to the search for qualities is the study of successful mediators and of peacebuilding leadership (Reychler and Stellamans 2005). Capacity: What peacebuilding tools are available? What financial and human resources are available for peacebuilding? Lund and Mehler (1999) have mapped measures and tools to remedy peacebuilding deficiencies. Readiness: Are the external actors willing and motivated for peacebuilding? How much support (domestic and international) is there for change? Are the internal actors ready for change? Power: Who are the major stakeholders? How much power do they have? Who are the stakeholders whose support must be canvassed? Sustainable peacebuilding requires not only hard, soft, and smart power, but above all integrative power. Integrative power is the power that binds humans together. Though it is seldom studied or discussed, Boulding (1989) argues that it is the strongest form of power, especially because exchange and coercive power cannot operate without integrative power.

The Planning of the Peacebuilding Process

The fourth component is the planning of the peacebuilding process. This is one of the most fascinating and complex areas of study, with a long way to go in terms of further research. In this component of the architecture of peacebuilding, several choices need to be made about how to build peace. This relates to the framing of time, entry and exit, priority setting, pacing the process, creating synergies, and anticipating and reducing negative side effects.

Framing Time

This involves choices about differentiating phases in the process, and the framing of the building process as a linear, circular, or procedural activity (Murnighan and Mowen 2002) All the authors perceive peacebuilding to be a multiphased process, each phase characterized by its own priorities. The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (2005) makes a distinction between stabilization (1–3 years), reorganization (4–7 years), and consolidation (8–10 years) The Center for Strategic and International Studies (2002) works with three phases: initial response (short term), transformation (mid-term), and fostering sustainability (long term); no exact timelines are given to each phase. The peacebuilding strategy of the US Department of State (2005) uses the same peacebuilding phases. The New Partnership for Africa’s Development (2005) frames post-conflict reconstruction in three phases: emergency (90 days–1 year), transition (1–3 years), and development (4–10 years). Lederach (1997) uses a four-phased approach: the crisis and issues stage (2–6 months); the people and relationships stage (1–2 years); the institutions or subsystem phase (5–10 years); and finally the phase that needs work for generations – the vision of peace and the desired future that all hope for and move towards. Lederach opts for a nonlinear, procedural perspective; NEPAD uses a more linear perspective with clearly defined timetables.

Entry and Exit

The entry–exit decision has facets, such as when to intervene, the expected exit, when and how to exit (instant vs phased withdrawal), assessing the impacts of withdrawal, and the choice of follow-up arrangements. According to Caplan (2005), “A good exit strategy depends on good entrance and intermediate strategies. An exit strategy cannot compensate, easily or at all, for major deficiencies in the design or implementation of a territorial administration, but by the same token, a poorly conceived exit strategy can jeopardize the achievements of the international administration and imperil the viability of the new state or territory.” Chesterman (2004) focuses on the timing of the elections, criticizes the timing of the Dayton peace agreement, which provided for elections to be held between six and nine months after the conclusion of the peace, and the perception that the troops would be home in a year. “After the elections, politics became the continuation of war by other means.”

Pacing the Peacebuilding Process

Changes can be implemented, either in an all-at-once, big bang fashion, or in a more incremental, step-by-step, stage-by-stage fashion. The interventions in Bosnia and the latest war in Iraq were handled in a big bang fashion, but each turned into “operation creep.” Most intervention tends to take time and be handled in incremental ways.

Setting Priorities

In the different phases of the conflict transformation, which tasks get priority or are allocated more resources and time than others? Although there is a general consensus on the need for complementarity, several authors tend to prioritize one or more areas of intervention (Llamazares 2005). One group of analysts represents the “security first” approach; they claim that peacebuilding doesn’t go anywhere without basic security. Security is considered the key to successful postwar peacebuilding and is vital for the freedom of movement, for the absence of personal or group threats, and for safe access to resources in the postwar setting. Schnabel and Ehrhart (2005), for example, prioritize efforts to reduce the military/security deficit foremost so that internal security structures become an asset and not a liability in the long-term peacebuilding process. A second group sees economic development as the path to success and claims that the economic vulnerability should be tackled from the beginning. For a third group, social welfare and civil society is of vital importance for the regeneration of societies and peacebuilding. Pugh (2000) points to imbalance between short-term, hard, visible reconstruction measures and soft, long-term social-civil programs. A fourth group stresses the economic agendas of war as a key source of conflict. Collier and Sambanis (2005) recommend that good peacebuilding must include disincentives for those benefiting from war in order to reduce their influence over the process. A fifth group claims that priority should be given to the remediation of the political and institutional deficits. Cousens et al. (2000) consider the “fragility or collapse of political processes and institutions” to be the main catalyst for war. A sixth group highlights the importance of justice and reconciliation. Lambourne (2004b) argues that both justice and reconciliation are fundamentally significant goals that need to be addressed in the design of successful postconflict peacebuilding processes and mechanisms, especially in the aftermath of genocide. Finally, there is the social-psychological approach. Rothstein (1999) points out the value of psychological and emotional components in the resolution of protracted conflicts.

Synchronicity and Sequencing

Are all the tasks implemented synchronically or is there a clear sequencing of the efforts? This is one of the least systematically researched aspects of the peacebuilding process. Several approaches can be distinguished: (1) the free-for-all approach: the underlying assumption is that more peacebuilding interventions will add up to more peace; (2) the ideology-driven approach, based on a belief in the primacy of security, development, democracy, or other types of interventions in peacebuilding; (3) the power-driven approach which claims that power makes or breaks peace; (4) the theory-driven approach, based on the research of successful and unsuccessful sequencing of different activities within and between different sectors; (5) the reconciliation-driven approach based on the belief that competing views and values need to be reconciled. Paris (2004:289) claims that pushing war-shattered states into stable market democracies too quickly can have damaging and destabilizing effects. A sensible approach would be to establish a system of domestic institutions capable of managing the disruptive effects of democratization and marketization in a first phase, and only then to phase in political and economic reforms as conditions warrant. Mansfield and Snyder (1995) support Paris’s vision that fast democratization is susceptible to instability. Furthermore, economic gains in the medium and long term can be created if in the short-term macro-economic policies are socially sensitive (Collier et al. 2003).

Negative and Positive Cross-Impacts or Synergies

How much attention is paid to the positive and negative cross-impacts of efforts in different sectors and at different levels? Have the impacts been assessed proactively? The assessment of peace and conflict impacts is not new. In December 1919, J. Keynes’s Economic Consequences of Peace appeared on the bookstalls. Keynes argued that the terms of the Versailles Treaty would be disastrous for both Germany and its allies. At the end of the book he presented an alternative policy – something like a Marshall Plan – providing Germany with resources that would enable it to pay a reasonable amount of restitution, but also to recover economically and socially.

Peacebuilding Coordination

All peacebuilders are interdependent in that they cannot achieve peace by themselves (Lederach 1997).

Coherence Deficit and Dilemma

Despite growing demands for working with an integrated framework and coordinating peace efforts, there is still a coherence deficit. The Upstein study of peacebuilding, which analyzed 336 peacebuilding projects in Germany, The Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and Norway in the 1990s, showed a lack of coherence at the national strategic level (Smith 2004). Similar findings were identified at the international level and in fragile states (United Nations 2006; Patrick and Brown 2007). Jones (2002) distinguishes three types of coordination problems in deadly conflicts: divergent and diffuse efforts in Bosnia, conflicting strategies in Rwanda, and a fragmented international presence in Burundi. Inadequate coordination increases the risks of duplication, inefficient spending, a lower quality of service, difficulty in meeting the goals, and a reduced capacity for delivery (de Coning 2008). On the other hand, greater coordination and coherence does not automatically mean better peacebuilding operations. This has been called the “coherence dilemma.” De Coning (2008) highlights some potential negative side effects: short-term political and security considerations may override long-term socio-economic rehabilitation; there may be undue pressure on internal actors; and the neutrality of humanitarian action may be negatively affected. Part of the research tries to identify the obstacles to fruitful coordination. Minear (2002:22–32), for example, lists five factors which could inhibit effective and efficient coordination: a lead agency’s lack of power (sticks and carrots), a lack of visibility and an inability to mobilize resources, high costs, the existence of ineffective structures (a multiplicity of actors who act autonomously), and the lack of leadership.

Dimensions of Coordination

An assessment of cooperation and coordination in peacebuilding implies an analysis of the (1) spaces of coordination, (2) the participation, (3) the elements of coordination, (4) the degree of coordination, and (5) strategy formation.

Spaces of coordination: Most analysts distinguish four coordination spaces: (a) agency coordination or consistency between the politics and actions of an individual agency, (b) whole-government coordination or consistency among the policies of different agencies in a country, (c) external-donor coherence or consistency between the policies pursued by external actors in a country, and (d) internal–external coordination, or consistency between the policies of internal and external actors in a conflict zone (Picciotto 2005; Owen and Travers 2007; de Coning 2008). Caplan (2005) emphasizes that coordination is needed at different levels: the strategic level, the tactical level, and the field level.

Participation: Who is involved in the peacebuilding process? What about local ownership? There is a broad consensus on the need to involve inside and outside actors in most peace settlements. Hampson (1996) assessed the impact of several factors based on the success or failure of peace settlement negotiations and concluded that third-party intervention contributed greatly to successful postsettlement peacebuilding. Caplan (2005) observes that a minimum of local ownership is needed in a transition regime. Without local ownership, it is difficult to develop political responsibility; the wrong lessons would be remembered by the local population and the legitimacy of the transition process be called into question. This is illustrated by the events in Bosnia-Herzegovina, where the High Representative could dismiss elected or appointed officials. The HR could remove anyone from office who, in his view, was obstructing the implementation of the Dayton accord. This has been called despotic or transnational authoritarianism. Large (1998) believes that the unique resources brought by local actors to the process make it imperative that meaningful participation take place. Despite growing awareness of the links between gender-sensitive approaches and more sustainable and participatory responses in conflict-affected contexts, in current EU interventions, women continue to be marginalized in peacebuilding initiatives (Barnes and Lyytikäinen 2008).

Elements of coordination: Coordination can be focused on the articulation and implementation of the overall peacebuilding strategy and the operational/tactical level of field operations. To get a better understanding of the degree of coherence achieved in peacebuilding operations, it would be useful to study the nature of coordination and coherence in the six components of peacebuilding architecture: (1) the end state or definition of peace and theoretical assumptions about the preconditions to achieve that peace, (2) the baseline or analysis of the conflict and the peacebuilding deficiency, (3) the analysis of the context, (4) the planning of the peacebuilding process, (5) the nature of coordination, and (6) the monitoring and evaluation of the impact of the peacebuilding efforts (Reychler 2009).

The degree of coordination: Jones and Cherif (2003) distinguish integrated, coordinated, parallel, and sequential peace operations. In integrated operations the full scope of operations is managed within a single chain of command. De Coning uses a scale going from coherence, cooperation, and collaboration to coexistence. Coherence, the highest degree of coordination, refers to a coalition that acts upon a standard mandate, strategic vision, and objectives (Friis and Jarmyr 2008). Jordan and Schout (2006) measure coordination on a nine-level Metcalfe scale: independent policy making, exchange of information, consultation, speaking with one voice, looking for consensus, conciliation, arbitration, setting margins, and working towards a specified objective.

Strategy formation: Choices also need to be made about the management of the peacebuilding process. Hart (1992) identifies five modes of strategy-formation processes. This framework is built around who is involved in the strategy formulation and in what manner. In the command mode, a strong leader controls the process. The strategy is a conscious, controlled process that is centralized at the top. The end state, the baseline, and alternatives are considered, and an appropriate course of action is decided upon and implemented. This strategy formation mode can vary from being directive to coercive (using power to impose change) (Balogun and Hailey 1999). The symbolic mode involves the creation, by the actors who take the lead, of a clear and compelling vision and mission. The major task is to motivate and inspire and to provide the necessary focus to guide the creative actions of the actors involved. Education and communication are core activities. This mode requires a great deal of participation and commitment. The rational mode is a theory-driven strategy formation. Strategy is developed through formal analysis (and information processing) and strategic planning. The transactive mode is based on interaction and learning rather than on the execution of a predetermined plan. Strategy is crafted based upon an ongoing dialogue with the key stakeholders. Cross-sector and cross-level communication between the actors involved is very important in this mode. The last mode of strategy formation is the generative mode. This mode depends on the autonomous initiatives of the actors involved in the peacebuilding process. The donor community selects and nurtures initiatives with high peace potential.

These ideal types are not exclusive. In many cases, one notices a combination of several of these modes. The choice is influenced by several factors: the power relations between the actors, the level of complexity of the peacebuilding plan, the heterogeneity of the conflict environment, the phase the conflict is in, etc. Donini (1996) distinguishes three types of strategy formulation and implementation: (1) coordination by command, (2) coordination by consensus, and (3) coordination by default. Some analysts, like Minear (2002), argue in favor of the coordination by command approach; others, like Stephenson and Kehler (2004), prefer coordination by consensus. Some researchers have focused on the unilateral vs multilateral organization of external interventions. Dobbins et al. (2003; 2005) observe that multiplicity tends to lead to more complex and time-consuming decision making than the unilateral approach. The activities could be highly atomized and the administration unwieldy. Caplan (2005) stresses that in a postcolonial age it has become politically unacceptable (and too expensive) to entrust responsibility for the administration of a territory to a single state, even if elaborate accountability mechanisms would be created: “Although the US drew in other states to share the responsibility of administering Iraq, precisely in an effort to confer legitimacy on the interim regime, the dominant role played by a major western power is one reason why it encountered such fierce resistance.” Mullenbach (2005) saw some evidence that the risk of military hostilities is at least somewhat lower when the UN or a regional IGO coordinates a multidimensional peacebuilding mission.

Coordination Mechanisms and Structures

Most researchers have analyzed and evaluated existing coordination mechanisms and structures, and some have generated alternative models of coordination. There is, for example, a considerable amount of research about the United Nations peacebuilding and integrated missions. Jones (2002) lists among the successful cases the role of the Special Representatives of the Secretary General (SRSGs), the continuity of key actors, the role of friend groups, and coordination mechanisms. Jordan and Schout (2006) have produced an interesting and critical analysis of the coordination in the European Union. Ricigliano (2003) introduced the concept of a Network of Effective Action (NEA) as a set of practices for collaboration that is capable of facilitating integrated approaches to peacebuilding both on the ground and in terms of the theoretical development of the field.

Monitoring and Evaluation

Without an effective system for monitoring and evaluating the impact of interventions on the conflict dynamic and peacebuilding, it is difficult to adapt to new challenges and unpredictables effectively and to learn from experience. Evaluation of the conflict and the peace impact of peacebuilding interventions has become common practice. Evaluations have been done before, during, and after intervention, and focus on different levels and sectors. Most evaluations look at part of the big picture. There are no macro evaluations of the peacebuilding activities in different sectors of all the major actors (internal and external) in a particular conflict setting. An essential part of the evaluation is the selection of objective criteria for evaluating the process and of benchmarks for progress and success. The OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) proposes nine criteria to assess conflict prevention and peacebuilding activities. (1) Relevance/appropriateness: Is the intervention based on an accurate analysis of the conflict and does it deal with the driving factors? (2) Effectiveness: Has the intervention achieved its stated purpose? (3) Efficiency: Were the resources used in an economic way? (4) Impact: What were the positive and negative impacts on the conflict and peace of specific interventions? (5) Sustainability: Will the hard-won results persist when the intervention stops? (6) Connectedness: Are there linkages between macro changes and individual/personal changes? (7) Coherence: Is there enough consistence or positive synergy between the interventions? (8) Coverage: Are there still hidden conflicts? (9) Consistency: Is the intervention consistent with conflict prevention and peacebuilding values? Has it succeeded in reconciling competing values (OECD/DAC 2007).

More criteria could be added, such as the participation and ownership of national/local owners and stakeholders, the clarity of the definition of the preferred peace, and the validity of the underlying assumptions about how to realize that peace. The research community has contributed to evaluation by operationalizing the criteria used for assessing good peacebuilding, developing methods for monitoring and evaluating interventions (Earl et al. 2001; Paffenholz and Reychler 2007) and studying the problems of researching in violently divided societies (Smyth and Robinson 2001).


The nexus between peacemaking, political change, development, peacekeeping, building, and reconciliation has become a central focus of the research, and peacebuilding the common framework within which the interactions between the activities are studied. Peacebuilding involves high-stake decisions that must be made when information is ambiguous, values conflict, and experts disagree. The research relates to six areas where decisions, choices, and judgments have to be made, regarding (1) the definition of the peace and the theoretical assumptions of peacebuilding (the end state), (2) the conflict and the peacebuilding deficiencies at the baseline, (3) the context, (4) the planning of the peacebuilding process, (5) the coordination of the process, and (6) the monitoring and evaluation of the intervention. Despite the progress made, there remain big gaps and challenges. Many analysts, for example, leave the end state vague and implicit and make no systematic differentiation between different types of peace. There is a convergence in the identification of peacebuilding conditions, but the research community still needs to distill from the vast and scattered reservoir of knowledge a comprehensive and valid theory of peacebuilding. Considerable progress has been made in the analysis of the baseline, including conflict analysis, early warning, and assessment of the peacebuilding potential and the difficulty of conflict transformation. With respect to the context, two salient issues require more attention: the qualities of a peacebuilder and the role of integrative power. The widest research gap is found in the planning of the peacebuilding process. It is one of the most fascinating and complex areas of study, relating to the framing of time, entry and exit, priority setting, pacing the process, synchronicity and sequencing, and positive and negative synergies. Higher-quality information and a methodology for analyzing complex dynamic behavior are urgently needed. The fifth and sixth components, peacebuilding coordination and monitoring and evaluation, have recently experienced a boost of attention and produced new insights and methodologies.

More scientific research would help to shape and create more effective, sustainable peacebuilding policies. A better exchange between researchers, practitioners, and decision makers could raise the learning curve. This would involve overcoming several obstacles. First, diplomats and politicians often deride academics’ lack of first-hand experience when it comes to the practice of managing conflicts and peacebuilding. They are perceived as being out of touch with the realities of a rapidly changing international landscape. This contains some truth, but distance can also be an advantage. The view from the academic balcony allows one to reflect dispassionately on perturbing foreign policy problems, to discern underlying patterns of behavior, to anticipate future threats, and to forecast the consequences of different policy options. Second, there is the problem of slow institutional learning. Some countries learn, while others have a flat learning curve. A third obstacle that limits the impact of researchers is the diminution of academic freedom in democratic countries. In the academic environment, especially in the humanities, the incentives for transdisciplinary research remain very poor. The political environment, especially with respect to conflict, peace, and security issues, has had an extremely negative impact on academic freedom, in the form of political correctness, the influence of spin doctors, unspeakable truths, the use of euphemisms, and the confusing language and taboos. Some scholars get around politically sensitive issues by engaging in pure theorizing and methodological correctness. The last obstacle is the foreign policy and security decision-making process, which is low on democratic checks and balances. All of this makes critical and sustainable peace theorizing essential.


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This contribution is based on many experiences, discussions, and research over the years. It’s impossible to acknowledge and thank all those who have influenced my thinking on sustainable peacebuilding. Let me express my appreciation for the valuable and timely help from two doctoral students, Julianne Funk and Nikos Manaras.