Local Peace, International Builders
Localized Peace Enforcement after Conflict
My book manuscript investigates how postcolonial identity politics shape the outcome of international peacebuilding operations. As states attempt to establish capacity in the aftermath of conflict, intercommunal violence at the local level frequently destabilizes peacebuilding operations and hinders promising statebuilding initiatives from taking root. While international peacekeepers can succeed in brokering and enforcing peace agreements between factions of a civil war, they often fail to resolve disputes arising within local communities. I engage with theories of nation-building, statecraft, and social identity formation to argue that how domestic populations perceive international actors determines peacebuilding effectiveness at the local level. My research shows that in some post-conflict settings, governments led by majorities frame colonialism as a partnership between a foreign occupier and a local minority group. These nation-building narratives prime majority groups to perceive international actors as biased in favor of minority groups. Consequently, majority group members are incentivized to escalate disputes with minorities even in the presence of international peacebuilders.
The manuscript is divided into three parts. In the first part, I introduce the concept of localized peace enforcement (LPE), which refers to international efforts to enforce local-level disputes. In order to deter violence from breaking out, interveners must commit credibly to punish peace violations by members of all social groups. I argue that domestic populations must perceive interveners as unbiased and willing to punish any individual for LPE operations to be effective. I distinguish between what I call transformational post-colonial governments, which sought to establish an independent national identity centered on a majority group, and what I term conservative post-colonial governments, which retained close relations with colonial occupiers, often including minority groups in power-sharing coalitions. I show that transformational regimes tended to craft exclusionary policies that portrayed minority groups as partners of colonial occupiers. As a result, I contend that local populations in states with a history of transformational policies perceive international interveners as more biased than local populations in states with conservative regimes.
The second part of the book manuscript evaluates the hypotheses derived from the theory using original data collected from Mali. In the first empirical test, I use data from a lab-in-the-field experiment conducted in February-March 2016 and a survey experiment conducted in July-August 2016 to show that French peacebuilders, perceived as biased in favor of the Tuareg minority, are less effective enforcers of intergroup cooperation than UN peacebuilders in Mali. I am preparing these findings into an article for submission in Fall 2017. The second empirical test of the theory employs sub-national data collected from Mali to show that there exists significant within-case variation of peacebuilding outcomes, depending on whether the national government implemented transformational policies in the given village or not. As part of this analysis, I will also incorporate the findings of a survey experiment to be fielded in 32 different villages in September-November 2017 (funded by the Folke Bernadotte Academy). I am preparing the second empirical test in article form for submission in Spring 2018.
The third part of the book manuscript extends my analysis of localized peacebuilding regionally and cross-nationally. I compare French and UN peacebuilding outcomes in Mali, which had largely transformational governance, to neighboring Cote d’Ivoire, which had post-colonial conservative governance. Then, I test the theory cross-nationally using original data collected on anti-colonial policies during the decades following independence (primarily the 1960s and 1970s). Finally, I present in-depth case studies of peacebuilding operations in Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Iraq, and Afghanistan that draws upon analyses of primary documents from UN, British, and American archives, interviews with policy-makers, and a review of military and peacekeeping reports from each case.