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African Affairs, 112/446, 72–91

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...