doi: 10.1093/afraf/ads080 Advance Access Publication 14 December 2012
© The Author 2012. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Royal African Society. All rights reserved
THE INTERNATIONAL PEACEBUILDING PARADOX: POWER SHARING AND POSTCONFLICT GOVERNANCE IN BURUNDI DEVON CURTIS*
Downloaded from http://afraf.oxfordjournals.org/ at University of East Anglia on August 13, 2013
ABSTRACT At ﬁrst glance, Burundi represents a successful negotiated transition to peaceful governance through power sharing, and a justiﬁcation for regional and international peacebuilders' involvement. It is undeniable that Burundi is safer than it was a decade or two ago. Most notably, while Burundi was once known for its ethnic divisions and antagonism, today ethnicity is no longer the most salient feature around which conﬂict is generated. Nevertheless, this article argues that the Burundian experience illuminates international peacebuilding contradictions. Peacebuilding in Burundi highlights the complex interplay between outside ideas and interests, and multiple Burundian ideas and interests. This is illustrated by the negotiation and implementation of governance institutions and practices in Burundi. Outsiders promoted governance ideas that were in line with their favoured conception of peacebuilding, and Burundian politicians renegotiated and reinterpreted these institutions and practices. Even as international rhetoric about peacebuilding emphasized liberal governance and inclusive participation, narrower conceptions of peacebuilding as stabilization and control became dominant. Thus, encounters between international, regional, and local actors have produced governance arrangements that are at odds with their liberal and inclusionary rhetorics. Paradoxically, the activities of international peacebuilders have contributed to an ‘order’ in Burundi where violence, coercion, and militarism remain central.
THE QUESTION OF HOW TO BUILD PEACE after violent conﬂict continues to preoccupy international policy makers. From Iraq to Afghanistan, from Côte d’Ivoire to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), neither military operations nor negotiated settlements alongside peacekeeping operations have offered clear pathways to peace. There is much disagreement over what kinds of peacebuilding activities should be prioritized, under what timeframe, and under whose authority. Continued discussions
*Devon Curtis (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a lecturer in the Department of Politics and International Studies at the University of Cambridge. Special thanks to three anonymous reviewers and the editors for their very helpful comments.
THE INTERNATIONAL PEACEBUILDING PARADOX
over the recent renewal of violence in eastern DRC have underlined the tensions and disagreements that arise over ideas about the kind of peace that can and should be built in the aftermath of violent conﬂict, in the Great Lakes region of Africa and elsewhere. International peacebuilding is not new, but the 1992 publication of An Agenda for Peace by the United Nations popularized the concept of peacebuilding as a distinct ﬁeld of activity requiring international attention.1 Since then, approaches to peacebuilding have evolved, and a rich body of scholarly literature has developed alongside the growth of the international peacebuilding industry. The ‘liberal peacebuilding’ frameworks that were so prevalent as a way of understanding peacebuilding in the 1990s have given way to a wider range of ideas and approaches, although much of this scholarship is still positioned either for or against the normative goal of liberal peace. Nonetheless, despite the increased policy attention and resources devoted to post-conﬂict peacebuilding, the ﬁne-tuning of peacebuilding approaches, and the plethora of policy-relevant scholarship aimed at improving peacebuilding practice, efforts to build peace usually fall short of expectations and...