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School of Social and International Studies

Department of Development and Economic Studies
Level: MA
Issues in Development Policy ID 7017D
Semester Two
Course Coordinator: Behrooz Morvaridi

"Critically examine the impact of liberal
peacebuilding policies to the development of
war-torn societies"

Submitted by: 10003785
Turnitin paper ID: 17698384

Words: 3412

1. Introduction

For more than two decades, since the end of the Cold War, the world has been
witnessing the prevalence of a new type of conflict affecting the international
relations, followed by more than two decades of responses given by the international
community to the conflict-affected countries. Regardless of a considerable amount of
practice, these last twenty years of peace-oriented" initiatives demonstrate how the
United Nations (UN) and donor agencies working in warfare countries worldwide are
still crawling to, as facilitators, enable these countries to create internal conditions for
a sustainable peace process, and Lo lmplemenL lessons learned" from pasL
This essay focuses specifically on the deficiencies of a certain part of the
lnLernaLlonal communlLy's response to the war-torn societies, the peacebuilding
process, particularly its (neo)liberal orientation and (in)consequences to the
of those societies. The first part briefly introduces the evolution of the
concept and practice of peacebuilding since the end of the 1980s, and the similarities
shared with the exported Western development model. The following section critically
analyses the inappropriateness of the "suggested" neoliberal policies down the throats
of countries emerging from conflict, and the consequent anomalous social dynamics
resulted from it not much different from the ones produced by the Washington and
post-Washington Consensus, and structural adjustment processes in the developing
world in the late nineteenth-century.
The proposal is not to simply repeat the well-known critiques of neoliberalism
to the development of the so called 'fraglle sLaLes', buL Lo highlight the counter-
productive insistency on a Western model proved flawed in non-conflicting societies,
let alone in the ones emerging from political, social and economic instability left by
civil wars. The theoretical debate is illustrated by two protracted peacebuilding
initiatives, in Afghanistan and East Timor
, selected considering the diversified nature

Although Lhe complexlLles lnvolvlng deflnlLlons for developmenL as a concepL, Lhe working definition"
adopted is authorship of Morvaridi (2008): the progressive improvement in the social, economic well
being of people so that they live longer, healthier and fuller lives within any given political entity".
The country had its name changed to Timor Leste with its independence from Indonesia in 2002;
however, the term being used follows the practice of the author being referred to.

of each of the conflicts and political motivations behind Western involvement on
. Combining such conceptual discussion with the fore mentioned examples on
the ground aims to conclude that the liberal peacebuilding model, the methodology
used to implement it, and its harmful results are unhelpful to build Lhe soclal
lnfrasLrucLure of peace" (8oyce & C'uonnel, 2007) in post-conflict societies, moreover
letting them in the verge of the resurgence of violence.

2. The liberal peacebuilding project

The dynamics of international relations and its actors' interaction have been
experiencing particular changes for the past twenty years. Previously, threats to
international security used to come from powerful aggressive states" (Newman, et al.,
2009, 9), with which it was necessary to be either ready to combat or align to. In the
posL-WesLphallan envlronmenL", Lhe falllng or confllcL-prone states have been the
ones representing the most menace (ibid.), with which developed/threatened states
demonsLraLe cooperaLlon" vla personnel conLrlbuLlon (Lroops and civilians) and aid
assistance (agencies and investments) in peace operations
, in an attempt to
guarantee stabilization and their security
. It is in such scenario that the liberal
project is strengthened.
Furthermore, the increasingly common internal violence in such countries,
occurring between state and non state actors, targeting civilians, infrastructures and
livelihood systems, endurlng cycles of vlolence and dlsplacemenL", became a
terminal threat to sustainable development (Duffield & Waddell, 2006, 6), in a period

The political motivation behind peacebuilding initiatives, or the political economy of peacebuilding, will
not be addressed throughout the paper, which does not intend to dismiss its fundamental role in the
subject. Because of the limited space of this paper, the focus chosen was some of the practical
development impacts of the peacebuilding policies in post-conflict societies.
Especially after 1988, mosL of Lhe un's operaLlons focused on Lhe Lask of posL-conflict peacebuilding
(Paris, 2004).
Mainly after the 9/11 attacks, the security concerns with civil wars in countries hosting terrorist groups
have been much alive behind peacebuilding initiatives.
The UN definition of peacebuilding is broad: "Peacebuilding involves a range of measures targeted to
reduce the risk of lapsing or relapsing into conflict by strengthening national capacities at all levels for
conflict management, and to lay the foundations for sustainable peace and development. Peacebuilding
strategies must be coherent and tailored to specific needs of the country concerned, based on national
ownership, and should comprise a carefully prioritized, sequenced, and therefore relatively narrow set
of activities aimed at achieving the above objectives." (UN, 2012; UN, 2012).

of intense discussions worldwide about the promotion of human security
and the
responsibility to protect
. Thus, peacebuilding became an important vehicle to
dellver" human securlLy (Turner, et al., 2011), performing multiple tasks in societies
devastated by conflicts.
The current peacebuilding policies result, therefore, from a mixture of security
and development (Duffield & Waddell, 2006), in such order of priorities which do not
reflect CalLung's original proposal of assisting indigenous skills to manage peace and
resolve conflict, and llberaLlng people from sLrucLural vlolence"
(Paris, 2004;
Peacebuilding and the United Nations, 2012). The failure to address the latter is the
focus of this paper.
The liberal peace project basically seeks to implement democraLlzaLlon, rule of
law, human rlghLs, clvll socleLy, markeLlzaLlon and developmenL" in war-torn societies,
creaLlng social, economic, and political models (that) conform to a mixture of liberal
and neollberal lnLernaLlonal expecLaLlons ln a globallzed and LransnaLlonal seLLlng"
(Richmond, 2008, 187). To perform the tasks necessary to secure individuals, Boutros-
claimed for an international division of labor among NGOs, UN agencies, civil
society and states (Boutros-Ghali, 1995), resulting, in peacebuilding contexts, in the
International Financial Institutions' (IFIs) responsibility for economic matters, and UN
and other agencies' responsibility for political and security issues
(Boyce & O'Donnell,
Regarding the role of the IFIs, in spite of the disastrous effects of the
conditionalities imposed to the so called Third World countries in the 70s and 80s,

According to the UNDP Human Development Report 1994, one of the documents responsible for the
lnLroducLlon of Lhe concepL ln Lhe un agenda, 1he concepL of human securlLy sLresses LhaL people
should be able to take care of themselves: all people should have the opportunity to meet their most
essential needs and to earn their own living. This will set them free and help ensure that they can make
a full contribution to development their own development and that of their communities, their
counLrles and Lhe world. Puman ecurlLy ls a crlLlcal lngredlenL of parLlclpaLory developmenL.' (unu,
1994, 24).
The concept Responsibility to Protect was created in 2001 with a report of the International
Commission on Intervention and State SoverelgnLy, and glves a moral duLy for sLaLes Lo lnLervene when
a sLaLe ls unable or unwllllng Lo ensure Lhe human securlLy of lLs clLlzens" (Duffield & Waddell, 2006, 9).
Galtung defines structural violence as anyLhlng affecLlng susLalnable and positive peace, caused by
poor economlc and soclal condlLlons, pollLlcal and economlc lnsLlLuLlons, sysLems, or sLrucLures"
(Galtung, 1969 cited by Paris, 2004, 58).
Boutros-Ghali was the sixth Secretary-General of UN, between 1992 and 1996, and published the
document being referred to, the Agenda for Peace, in 1995.
Such division between economic and political processes has been one of the critiques of the model,
which will be further addressed in the next section.

ugh sLaLes LhaL 1he old-style unthinking Washington consensus about development
may be merely a virtual death, with a liberal peace redivivus emerglng from Lhe ashes"
(2005, 6). In the beginning of the 90s, the rules for war-Lorn socleLles' loans wlLh
International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank
consisted on the same that
used to be applied, such as fiscal and monetary austerity measures, low public
expenditure, limited provision of credit and devaluation of local currency, envisioning
low inflation rates, macroeconomic balance, privatization, liberalization of trade and
deregulation of financial and labor markets (Paris, 2004). By the end of the 90s, good
governance, volce" and partnership were added to the post-Washington Consensus
list (ibid.; Maxwell, 2005), covering even more the ticking boxes of the western liberal
Many critiques of the neoliberal development project of peacebuilding have, to
a certain extent, succeded in bringing a reformulation", at least in the discourse, of
the liberal peace project in recent years. 1he accepLance of Lhe flawed lnsLlLuLlonally
oriented, neoliberally aimed and constructed around the elite governance of conflict
zones" llberal peace model (Richmond & Franks, 2008, 187) has encouraged pressure
for fair trade, accomplishment of Millenium Development Goals (MDGs), lessening
debt, advocacy for social protection and negligence of aid conditionality (Pugh, 2005).
1here has also been a new confllcL lmpacL assessmenL" into decision-making at
official development agencies (Boyce & O'Donnell, 2007, 9), and the creation of the
Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) and UN Peacebuilding Support Office, in order to
lnsLlLuLlonallze lessons learned" and promoLe durable peace ln posL-conflict regions
(ugh, 2003). noneLheless, accordlng Lo 8oyce & C'uonnell (op clL), confllcL lmpacL
assessmenL" applied to revenue policies, for example, is still in its infancy" and the
PBC, instead of reporting to the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and General
Assembly, does it to the power-disputed Security Council, and induces early
involvement of IFIs in peace process, reinforcing even more the liberal ideology and
practice (Pugh, 2005).
The liberal peace project has been institutionalized to the extent that most of
the human rights, development and emergency relief agencies on the ground accept

According to Paris (2004), the World Bank started to impose conditionalities to its loans in the 80s

its ideals as Lhe deslrable ob[ecLlves for developlng sLaLes" (arls, 2004). Pugh argues
that Lhe reforms" proposed by none oLher Lhan Lhe llfeguards" of caplLallsm
better described by Lhe Lerm llddlsm"
, which do not represent, therefore, the
necessary paradigm shift for the emergence of real emancipatory and sustainable
peace processes in post-conflict realities (Pugh, et al., 2008, 395).

3. The (lack of) developmental role of the liberal peacebuilding project

Although the reasonable years of experiences and failures of the broad and
ambitious liberal peacebuilding project, it continues to be implemented
complemenLed by Lhe new values" sLaLed earller promising to establish market
democracies which promote human rights and civil peace (Richmond, 2006). However,
the fruits harvested by the recipient societies are most frequently state and
lnsLlLuLlons' weakness, unemploymenL and lack of developmenL (ibid.), not much
different from what developing countries had experienced in the late nineteenth
century. Paddy Ashdown
appropriately addressed such malfunction:
lronlcally, as a pollLlclan l campalgned agalnsL many
of her [1haLcher's] reforms, argulng LhaL Lhey would lead Lo
lost jobs and the selling off of the national wealth; only to find
myself instituting very similar reforms in Bosnia and facing the
same arguments and opposition. What makes matters worse
in most post-conflict countries is that they are poor, not rich
so the pain can be far greater. There is not much the
interveners can do about this, except understand it and
recognize that by insisting on accelerated reforms we are
often asking local politicians to take responsibility for a level of
social disruption which our own politicians at home would
re[ecL wlLhouL a second LhoughL" (Ashdown, 2007 cited by
Cooper, et al., 2011, 7)

Several arguments can be derived from his words. The most evident relates to
the fast-speed political and economic changes requested by intervenors, whose

Cne example ls !effrey achs, earller responslble for Lhe sLrucLural ad[usLmenL and shorL sharp shock
LreaLmenL", and laLer archlLecL of Lhe compilation of the Millenium Declaration into MDGs. The latter is
fllled wlLh llberal assumpLlons, such as one-size-fits-all" Lo Lackle exLreme poverLy, publlc lnvesLmenL
for private purposes, and absence of state dirigisme in integration to the global trade (Pugh, 2005, 7).
Llddlsm", a term designed by Paul Rogers, means keeping a lid on disorder (Rogers, 2000).
addy Ashdown was a Member of arllamenL durlng MargareL 1aLcher's admlnlsLraLlon, and laLer
(2002-2006) the High Representative of the Office of the High Representative (OHR) in Bosnia and

impacts the governments, when existent, are not able to absorb. Furthermore, Chua
states that aL no polnL ln hlsLory dld any Western nation ever implemented laissez-
faire capitalism and overnight universal suffrage aL Lhe same Llme" (2004, 14).
Similarly, widespread privatization, especially in social services, does not seem suitable
where even basic services are not delivered (Pugh, 2005).
AnoLher lLem derlved from Ashdown's sLaLemenL regards Lhe separaLlon
between economics and politics/social values in peacebuilding strategies, which Cox
(1992) cited by Pugh (2005, 9) calls de-politization of economlc lssues". Pazardous
effects are generated in post-conflict societies as a result of the absence of a holistic
approach to deal with their complexities, which is also a reflect of the lack of synergy
between, for example, the British Department for International Development (DFID)
and LhaL counLry's ueparLmenL of 1rade and lndusLry in dealing with their aid recipient
countries (Collier, 2007). As declared by Ashdown, reforms instituted by intervenors in
post-conflict realities such as removal of barriers for free trade are still rejected by
their own politicians at home, where the rule is that integration to global markets is
followed by growth, which is followed by protectionism in order to safeguard critical
economic interests in the promotion of freer trade (Pugh, 2005). DIFD efforts in the
development of war-torn societies would be much more effective if it had a voice in
the British industrial and trade sectors.
Pavlng sald LhaL, one lasL lssue connecLed Lo Ashdown's quoLe ls Lhe role of Lhe
state in the post-conflict economy. Beyond imposing trade barriers and protecting
national industries, it is the primary responsibility of governments to invest and
provide public goods and services, create employment, reduce the shadow economy,
and most importantly, redress horlzonLal and verLlcal lnequallLles LhaL are lmpllcaLed
ln vlolenL confllcL", necessary for Lhe soclal lnfrasLrucLure of peace" (Turner, 2006;
Boyce & O'Donnell, 2007, 9). Private-sector markets are far from adjusting such
inequalities automatically, as advocated by neoliberal policies, and which had been
proven by the experience of developing countries not emerging from conflict in the
past two decades.
The peacebuilding policies demonstrate a major concern with the (re)creation
of a state capable of implementing the rule of law dictated by externals, usually to be
implemented by ruling local elites, in order to regulate a turbulent environment. The

establishment of a functioning society, with a sustainable economic process capable of
generating employment and a welfare system (Richmond, 2006), with the participation
of its people, although gradually incorporated in policy documents, is far from being
set as priority by donors' pracLlces. An example on the ground was the imposition of
the foreign centralized judicial system and new" rule of law in East Timor, in conflict
wlLh local suco (vlllage) and Lrlbal law", which has caused troubles with compliance
and police training in the country (Richmond & Franks, 2008, 195).
Regarding the welfare
systems of those societies, some are the reasons for
their hindrance. First of all, the wealth creation system is not only imposed from the
foreign above", but it is also llkely Lo be managed by ellLes LhaL conducLed confllcL ln
flrsL place", lnLenslfylng Lhe soclally dlvlslve, aLomlzlng effecLs of confllcL capital
accumulation by dispossession, reorientations of patronage and fragmentation of
auLhorlLy" (ibid., 296; 83). The absence of locals in leading the political and economic
course of their own societies, marginalising their understanding of peace and well-
being, and not addressing their needs (Newman et al., 2009; Richmond, 2008), leads to
a fiscal dilemma: none or few services delivered to the peoples, results in their
proportionate will to pay taxes, which affects not only the governnemnt revenues but
also its legitimacy (Boyce & O'Donnell, 2007).
Secondly, amid such environment of unsustainable market-oriented economic
reconstruction delegated to a minority which Amy Chua contends as the recipe for
group hatred and ethnic violence
and with no viable alternative livelihoods, the
shadow economy is frequently considered a possibility (Cooper & Pugh, 2004). That is
very much the case in Afghanistan, where the drug economy, which figures as a
historical aspect of the country, ls Lhe nearesL Lhlng Lo a naLlonal secLor" and 80-90
percenL of Lhe economy ls lnformal, descenLrallzed and fragmenLed" (Goodhand &
Sedra, 2010). 1he lnLernaLlonal process of aldlng Lhe counLry's reconsLrucLlon has not
properly consldered Lhe conLexL of Afghan hlsLory and soclal relaLlons" by considering
activities of the organized crime and informal economies as obstacles for the state-
building process, and enforcing the rule of law in an attempt to restrain them

Refraining from a theoretical debate about the concept, in will be simply considered lndlvldual and
community fostered well-belng" (newman, eL al., 2009, 80).
MarkeLs concenLraLe enormous wealth in the hands of an ouLslder" minority, fomenting ethnic envy
and haLred among ofLen chronlcally poor ma[orlLles" (Chua, 2004, 9).

(Goodhand, 2004). There is a need, instead, of engaging with Lhe lllegal"
entrepreneurs to support them channel their profits to investment in the not-so-
attractive licit economy (ibid.). According to Newman,
ulsmlssal of all elements of informal welfare
pracLlced ln Lhe Lrlcks of llfe" as socially corrosive and
leading to moral collapse is to misunderstand the need for
social cement in everyday life where social corrosion is
engendered by increasing disparities of wealth under
llberallzaLlon" (Newman, et al., 2009, 88).

A number of neoliberals even dare to affirm LhaL welfare ls a dlslncenLlve Lo
lnvesLmenL and work, and creaLe dependence" (Cffe, 1982 clLed by lchmond, 2008,
293). They do not mention, however, the dependency created by the external
presence in countries hosting peacebuilding missions which are llLerally dellvered" to
post-conflict societies by an externally designed agenda, enabled by foreign aid, and
implemented by international workers. The main aspects of the hornbook" were
previously explored; the impacts of international financial assistance and human
resources also deserve some considerations.
The importance of aid in reconstructing countries emerging from conflict
should not be undermined. Nevertheless, the relatively high amounts flowing into the
economy possibly represents: a) a discouragement for raising domestic revenues
through collecting taxes; b) an overloading of the already restrictive sLaLe's ablllLy Lo
disburse funds in a timely and LransparenL fashlon", c) a hindrance in bulldlng sLaLe
capaclLy ln budgeL allocaLlon and expendlLure managemenL", once ald ls malnly
conducted via private actors and NGOs (Boyce & O'Donnell, 2007, 10). As a result,
several authors mention the creation of a dual public sector one managed by the
government, and the other managed and funded by donors (Goodhand, 2004;
Ishizuka, 2008).
Furthermore, the previously mentioned imposition of conditions la Bretton
Woods by donor agencies and countries in order to continue delivery of aid, such as
good governance, moves Lhe naLlonal agenda away from local needs and asplraLlons"
(Newman, 2009, 11), lmpedlng Lhe creaLlon of a soclal conLracL beLween clLlzens and
insLlLuLlons LhaL clLlzens percelve as leglLlmaLe" (Richmond & Franks, 2008, 198),
undermining even more the strengthening of the state.

In East Timor, the dual and external-interest driven economy is appropriately
represented by the American management of revenues from the Timorese oil and gas
reserves. The country has contracts with Australia and international energy
organizations, but the oil funds flow through the US central bank in order to avoid
corruption by the Timorese government. According to Richmond (2008), corruption
actually occurs on the side of Lhose avoldlng" lL, as Americans work with Fretilin
oppose Lo Lhe counLry's governmenL.
ln Lhe Afghan conLexL, by 2004, 30 percenL of Lhe counLry's Cu conslsLed on
aid, and one third of the total amount that had been aided to Afghanistan since 2001
had come from USA (Goodhand, 2004). Thus, the priority had been given to military
and security sector reform, creating such a structure especially oriented by the short
term objectives of counter-insurgency operations that the government will not be
able Lo susLaln ln Lhe long Lerm even wlLh Lhe mosL opLlmlsLlc revenue pro[ecLlons"
(ibid., 88). The apparently aspiration of Afghans for a strong and centralized state
capable of providing a functioning legal system and stability is disregarded, which runs
Lhe rlsk of Lransformlng a crlmlnallzed war economy" ln a crlmlnallzed peace
economy" (lbld., 76).
egardlng lnLernaLlonal workers' lnvolvemenL ln counLrles hosLlng
peacebuilding missions most of them coming from developed realities , or local
employees by UN or international NGOs, two issues deserve considerable concern.
Firstly, the consuming habits of expatriate workers induces the development of a
parallel economy consisted by overpriced hotels, cafes, restaurants and supermarkets,
only afforded by those earning an international salary (Ishizuka, 2008). In East Timor,
such dlsplay of affluence amld Lhe poverLy, desLrucLlon and unemploymenL whlch
characLerlzed Lhe local economy was an affronL" (Overseas Development Institute,
2002 cited by Ishizuka, 2008, 55).
Second, the employment of local people by external organizations have two
side effects in the economy dynamics: their better working conditions and salaries
lnduce a braln draln" from sLaLe lnsLlLuLlons and communlLy based organlzaLlons, and
such international salary stimulates inflation on price levels, depresslng Lhe value of

Fretilin is the Revolutionary Front for an Independent East Timor, the opposition party to the
government of East Timor.

state salaries" (Coodhand, 2004, 90). In Afghanistan those effects reverberated in the
national economy by the forty thousand locals employed by international
organizations, who were characterized by Afghans as Lhe cows Lhat drink their own
mllk" (ibid., 94). Likewise, in East Timor there was a widespread national sentiment
LhaL 1lmorese became Lhe servanLs of lnLernaLlonal ald workers ln Lhelr own counLry"
(Ishizuka, 2008, 54).
The highlighted issues herein are far from covering the whole range of impacts
caused by the current liberal peacebuilding project in the reconstruction and
development of post-conflict societies. However, it intended to demonstrate how
Lveryday llfe does noL conform Lo Lhe raLlonallsm of Lhe economic engineers from
ouLslde" (Newman, et al., 2009, 87), and the real impacts of their magic-formulas on
the ground, already known by previous neoliberal development initiatives. It is more
adequaLe Lo say LhaL Lhese socleLles' welfare ls arranged despite the international
assistance and not because of it (ibid.). The reasons for insisting in the same mistakes
from past experiences are subject for another essay.

4. Conclusion

The liberal peacebuilding and the amendments it has undergone throughout
the past two decades is paralleled to the changes occurred in the development model
being implemented in less developed regions by international organizations and donor
agencies. The financial crisis of 2008 has once again demonstrated that the American
maglc formula" of neollberal markeL-democracies, especially in a deliberatively
liberalized capital market environment, can bring catastrophic consequences to the
societies well-being (Birdsall & Fukuyama, 2011). The need for social protection and a
sequencing liberalization process
have been proposed and implemented in countries
such as Brazil and Mexico, but have not yet reached peacebuilding (ibid.), what this
piece of work has attempted to demonstrate.
The analogy made between the concepts and practices of the liberal
peacebuilding and the development models stresses how unproductive and even

Sequencing liberalization means liberalizing only after a strong regulatory system has been in place
(Birdsall & Fukuyama, 2011).

counter-productive it is to continue implementing such a package", which has
historically caused serious political, economic and social damages to the developing
world, in societies destroyed by civil wars. Some of those damages caused by the
peacebuilding experiences in East Timor and Afghanistan, which have been in place
throughout the past decade, illustrated that.
Furthermore, considering the fragile aspects of the post-conflict realities, the
lmpacLs of Lhe currenL peacebulldlng programmes may easlly exacerbaLe Lhe soclal
tensions that resulted in violenL confllcL ln Lhe flrsL place", noL conLrlbuLlng, Lherefore,
for the sustainable peace envisioned (Newman, et al., 2009, 13). Quoting Birdsall &
Fukuyama, and correlating peace and development, developmenL has never been
something that the rich bestowed on the poor but rather something the poor achieved
for themselves" (2011, 33). As well as for development, for a peace process to be
durable it must involve the welfare dynamics and culture of the peoples affected, who
must be the protagonists of their own emancipation. Such message is made clear in
the following statement by Xamana Gusmo, current Prime Minister of East Timor,

We are noL lnLeresLed ln a legacy of cars and laws,
nor are we interested in a legacy of development plans for the
future designed by [people] other than East Timorese. We are
not interested in inheriting an economic rationale which
leaves out the social and political complexity of East Timorese
reality. Nor do we wish to inherit the heavy decision-making
and project implementation mechanisms in which the role of
the East Timorese is to give their consent as observers rather
than the active players we should start to be" (Dodd, 2000,


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