Peace and democracy at the crossroads
: 14 peacebuilding dilemmas after civil war

  • Izabela Da Costa Pereira Watts

    Student thesis: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) - CDU


    When a civil war ends, what are the main dilemmas involved in seeking to mutually achieve “peace, democracy, and a functional state”? And, what role do UN operations play in bringing simultaneously peace and democracy to post-civil war countries? After 30 years since the end of the Cold War, something seems wrong with the “democratic peacebuilding” agenda. The political transition to civil democratic peace is often conflict-ridden. Despite anunprecedented number of UN interventional operations “to enforce peace and build democracy”, rarely can war-torn countries make a transition to both peace and democracy. Either they are trapped in an endless cycle of conflict or achieve stability only through nondemocratic rule. Contrary to the common belief that peace and democracy go hand in hand after a civil war, this research explores how they are at a crossroads. It proposes an innovative set of 14 dynamic dilemmas with respective trade-offs called the Philosophical – Actors –Tactical (P-A-T) platform of democratic peacebuilding dilemmas. It focuses onunderstanding the contradictions in post-conflict recovery, the challenges facing interim governments and the role of the international community when transitioning from internal armed conflict towards political, legal, civil and social orders from 1989 to 2018. The conceptual framework of transitional dilemmas is used to analyze a set of 12 issues commonly found during transition times: elections and political parties; the constitution, checks and balances and power sharing; transitional justice: human rights and amnesty, truth commissionsand ad hoc war crime tribunals; disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR) & SSR; media reform and civil society. Solving one dilemma leads to at least one or more other dilemmas that shape a complex apparatus for the restoration of peace and the installation of a new political regime. This research contributes theoretically by advancing the paradoxes already identified by the literature (temporal, systemic, horizontal and vertical) with anadditional ten dilemmas: central, existential, design, moral, operational, resource, security, sequencing, financial and, transparency. Understanding this systematic set of dilemmas may provide the key to guiding disrupted states through the difficult process of transition after conflict. With a new procedural approach, it also helps to explain why UN missions sometimes bring some peace but rarely a functional democracy to civil war-torn countries; it claims thatoften a moderate level of each is achieved. 

    Civil wars represent contemporary challenges, not only to a state’s stability and legitimacy, but also to regional and international order and security. So that they often become “global civil wars”. The transition is invested by hybrid forms of peace, along with hybrid forms of political structures and processes, imposed via a top-down approach by international actors. Beyond understanding the causes and consequences of civil wars, more research is required to foresee the challenges after civil war on the path towards sustainable democratic peace, state-building, and perhaps, even nation-building. Therefore, this research addresses the contemporaneous paradoxes interrelated to civil war, fragile states, peacebuilding, democratization, state-building and the United Nations. With the objective to avoid failed states, the research proposes a tool for better decision-taking through awareness of probable dilemmas that are faced in any post-civil war situation.
    Date of AwardJan 2019
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorWayne Cristaudo (Supervisor)

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