Complexity, peacebuilding and coherence : implications of complexity for the peacebuilding coherence dilemma

De Coning, Cedric Hattingh (2012-12)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2012.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This dissertation explores the utility of using Complexity studies to improve our understanding of peacebuilding and the coherence dilemma, which is regarded as one of the most significant problems facing peacebuilding interventions. Peacebuilding is said to be complex, and this study investigates what this implies, and asks whether Complexity could be of use in improving our understanding of the assumed causal link between coherence, effectiveness and sustainability. Peacebuilding refers to all actions undertaken by the international community and local actors to consolidate the peace – to prevent a (re)lapse into violent conflict – in a given conflict-prone system. The nexus between development, governance, politics and security has become a central focus of the international effort to manage transitions, and peacebuilding is increasingly seen as the collective framework within which these diverse dimensions of conflict management can be brought together in one common framework. The coherence dilemma refers to the persistent gap between policy-level assumptions about the value and causal role of coherence in the effectiveness of peacebuilding and empirical evidence to the contrary from peacebuilding practice. The dissertation argues that the peacebuilding process is challenged by enduring and deep-rooted tensions and contradictions, and that there are thus inherent limits and constraints regarding the degree to which coherence can be achieved in any particular peacebuilding context. On the basis of the application of the general characteristics of Complexity to peacebuilding, the following three recommendations reflect the core findings of the study: (1) Peacebuilders need to concede that they cannot, from the outside, definitively analyse complex conflicts and design ‘solutions’ on behalf of a local society. Instead, they should facilitate inductive processes that assist knowledge to emerge from the local context, and such knowledge needs to be understood as provisional and subject to a continuous process of refinement and adaptation. (2) Peacebuilders have to recognise that self-sustainable peace is directly linked to, and influenced by, the extent to which a society has the capacity, and space, to selforganise. For peace consolidation to be self-sustainable, it has to be the result of a home-grown, bottom-up and context-specific process. (3) Peacebuilders need to acknowledge that they cannot defend the choices they make on the basis of pre-determined models or lessons learned elsewhere. The ethical implications of their choices have to be considered in the local context, and the effects of their interventions - intended and unintended - need to be continuously assessed against the lived-experience of the societies they are assisting. Peacebuilding should be guided by the principle that those who will have to live with the consequences should have the agency to make decisions about their own future. The art of peacebuilding lies in pursuing the appropriate balance between international support and home-grown solutions. The dissertation argues that the international community has, to date, failed to find this balance. As a result, peacebuilding has often contributed to the very societal weaknesses and fragilities that it was meant to resolve. On the basis of these insights, the dissertation concludes with a call for a significant re-balancing of the relationship between international influence and local agency, where the role of the external peacebuilder is limited to assisting, facilitating and stimulating the capacity of the local society to self-organise. The dissertation thus argues for reframing peacebuilding as something that must be essentially local.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie proefskrif ondersoek die toepaslikheid van Kompleksiteitstudies om ons begrip van vredesbou en die dilemma van koherensie te verbeter, wat as een van die gewigtigste probleme vir die toetrede tot vredesbou beskou kan word. Vredesbou word as kompleks beskou en die implikasies van hierdie siening word in hierdie proefskrif ondersoek. Dienooreenkomstig word die vraag na die nut van Kompleksiteitstudies vir die verbetering van ons begrip van die veronderstelde kousale verband tussen koherensie, doeltreffendheid en volhoubaarheid aangespreek. Vredesbou verwys na alle handelinge wat deur die internasionale gemeenskap en plaaslike belanghebbendes onderneem word om vrede binne ʼn gegewe sisteem, wat neig na konflik, te konsolideer om sodoende ’n (her)verval in gewelddadige konflik te voorkom. Die aanknopingspunt tussen ontwikkeling, staatsbestuur, staatkunde en sekuriteit is tans die sentrale fokus van die internasionale poging om sodanige oorgange te beheer, en vredesbou word toenemend as ’n kollektiewe raamwerk beskou, waarbinne hierdie onderskeie dimensies van konflikbestuur in een gemeenskaplike raamwerk saamgebring kan word. Die koherensiedilemma verwys na die voortdurende gaping tussen beleidsvlakaannames ten opsigte van die waarde en kousale rol van koherensie vir die doeltreffendheid van vredesboupogings en empiriese data vanuit die vredesboupraktyk wat hierdie aanvaarde kousale verband weerspreek. Die proefskrif toon dat vredesboupogings uitgedaag word deur voortdurende en diepgewortelde spanninge en teenstrydighede, en dat daar dus inherente beperkings en stremmings is ten opsigte van die mate waartoe koherensie binne enige spesifieke vredesboukonteks moontlik is. Op grond van die toepassing van die algemene kenmerke van Kompleksiteitstudies op die vredesbouproses, weerspieël die volgende drie aanbevelings die kernbevindings van die studie: (1) Vredesbouers moet toegee dat hulle nie daartoe in staat is om komplekse konflikte van buite af bepalend te analiseer en ‘oplossings’ namens ’n plaaslike gemeenskap te ontwerp nie. Hulle behoort eerder induktiewe prosesse te fasiliteer om ondersteuning te bied sodat kennis uit die plaaslike konteks na vore kom, en sodanige kennis moet as voorlopig en onderhewig aan ’n voortdurende proses tot verfyning en aanpassing, verstaan word. (2) Vredesbouers moet besef dat die selfvolhoubaarheid van vrede direk verband hou met, en beïnvloed word deur, die mate waartoe ’n gemeenskap oor die vermoë tot en ruimte vir selforganisering beskik. Vir vredeskonsolidering om selfvolhoubaar te wees, moet die proses wat daartoe aanleiding gee inheems, van ‘onder-na-bo’ en konteks-spesifiek wees. (3) Vredesbouers moet aanvaar dat hulle nie die besluite wat hulle neem op grond van voorafbestaande modelle of lesse wat elders geleer is kan regverdig nie. Die etiese implikasies van hulle besluite moet in terme van die plaaslike konteks beoordeel word, en die effekte van hulle ingrepe – bepland en onbepland – moet voortdurend opgeweeg word teen die daaglikse ervaring van die samelewings wat bygestaan word. Vredesbehoupogings behoort gelei te word deur die beginsel dat diegene wat met die gevolge van die proses sal moet saamleef, die agentskap behoort te hê om besluite oor hulle eie toekoms te neem. Die kuns van vredesbou lê in die vasstel van ’n toepaslike balans tussen internasionale ondersteuning en inheemse oplossings. Die proefskrif se argument is dat die internasionale gemeenskap tot dusver daarin gefaal het om hierdie balans te vind. As gevolg hiervan het pogings tot vredesbou dikwels bygedra tot die presiese swakhede en broosheid in die gemeenskap wat dit veronderstel was om aan te spreek. Op grond van hierdie insigte sluit die proefskrif af met ’n beroep tot ’n betekenisvolle herbalansering van die verhouding tussen internasionale invloed en plaaslike agentskap, waarin die rol van die eksterne vredesbouer beperk moet word tot die ondersteuning, fasilitering en stimulering van die plaaslike gemeenskap se vermoë tot selforganisering. Die proefskrif bepleit dus dat vredesbou herontwerp word binne ’n essensieel plaaslike raamwerk.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/71891
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