Internal and external dilemmas of peacebuilding in Africa


Since 1992, the United Nations has included a focus on peacebuilding as part of the international effort to assist states recovering from conflict. This paper argues that peacebuilding programming has prioritised order above other social values, which has resulted in an emphasis on building robust state structures as the way to instil stability within a society. This trend exposes the concept and practice of peacebuilding to a range of dilemmas, particularly around the role of violence in state formation and the problematics of statehood in Africa. Due to the inherent contradictions between peacebuilding and statebuilding, the former conceptually fails to provide a framework for prioritising interventions. This creates blindness to the conflicts that are caused by prioritising the control of complexity through the tools of the state.

About the author

Lauren Hutton is a Research Fellow at the Conflict Research Unit of the Netherlands Institute of International Relations – Clingendael. She has worked on peace and security in sub-Saharan Africa for the past ten years with think tanks as well as development and humanitarian organisations including for the Institute for Security Studies, Saferworld and Danish Refugee Council. Lauren holds a Master’s Degree in political studies from the University of the Western Cape, South Africa.


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