Chapter 4 - Recovering from violent conflict

Chapter 4 - Recovering from violent conflict


Peacebuilding: socioeconomic recovery

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Socioeconomic recovery 

There is consensus that recovery does not mean rebuilding pre-conflict structures and dynamics, or a return to pre-conflict economic trends. Instead, recovery should be seen as a process of socioeconomic transformation. The ultimate aim is to establish the conditions for self-sustaining equitable growth and human development while addressing key risk factors for the renewal of violence.

Socioeconomic recovery thus covers a broad range of activities spanning reconstruction of physical infrastructure, livelihood and employment generation, rehabilitation of public health and educational systems, development of social safety nets, legal and regulatory reforms, private sector development, the creation of markets and transparent banking and financial institutions.

Brown, G., Langer, A., Stewart, F., 2008, ‘A Typology of Post-Conflict Environments: An Overview’, Centre for Research on Inequality, Human Security and Ethnicity (CRISE) Oxford University, Oxford
Which policies to promote sustainable peace-building and socio-economic development are needed in different types of post-conflict environment? This paper offers a typology of post-conflict environments, suggesting that policy choice should be informed by three key variables: the state of economic development; the presence of high-value natural resources; and the existence of sharp horizontal inequalities. Four enabling conditions are also important in determining policy options and effectiveness - the state of security, the commitments of the international community to the country, state capacity and the inclusivity of government.

McCandless, E., and Rogan, J., 2013, ‘Bringing Peace Closer to The People: The Role of Social Services in Peacebuilding’, Journal of Peacebuilding & Development, vol. 8, no, 3
Social services can fuel instability and conflict.  Conversely they can play a unique role in fostering social cohesion, inclusive development and peaceful societies. This special issue of the Journal of Peacebuilding & Development draws together a range of articles and policy and country briefs. It explores the potential of social services to contribute to peacebuilding and the challenges confronting policymakers and practitioners in adapting social services to deliver greater peacebuilding impact. The growing policy-level recognition of the links between social services, conflict and peace is catalysing policy and practice response. Social service related provisions are increasingly finding their way into peace agreements.
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Lewarne, S. and Snelbecker, D., 2004, ‘Economic Governance in War Torn Economies: Lessons Learned from the Marshall Plan to the Reconstruction of Iraq’, Long Report Prepared for USAID
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Gueli, R., Liebenberg, S., and Van Huyssteen, E., 2007, 'Integrated Development Planning in South Africa: Lessons for International Peacebuilding?', African Journal on Conflict Resolution, vol. 7, no. 1, pp.89-112
How can international peacebuilding efforts be better integrated? This article assesses the efforts of the UN to improve donor coordination in post-conflict settings and finds that, in spite of recent reform efforts, peacebuilding missions still often lack integrated systems of planning and implementation. It recommends that the international community draws lessons the post-apartheid South African experience on developing an integrated approach to governance that both meets immediate needs and lays the foundation for lasting peace. Multi-agency planning requires structured and systematic interaction, alignment of different planning instruments, and targeted interventions.

For discussion and resources on service delivery, see the service delivery and state-building section of the GSDRC’s fragile states guide and the service delivery in conflict and fragile contexts section of the GSDRC’s service delivery guide.

Transformation of war economies

There are typically three types of war economies: the combat economy, shadow or parallel economy, and coping economy. The combat economy concerns the exploitation of natural resources and illicit goods by individuals and groups to finance armed conflict. The shadow or parallel economy refers to opportunistic activities outside of the formal economy. While actors in this economy benefit from conflict conditions that allow for their activities, they are not necessarily committed to the pursuance of war. The coping economy refers to survival tactics adopted by individuals in the absence of a functioning state.

These distinctions should be recognised when devising strategies and policies aimed at transforming war economies. Shadow economies that are not conflict-oriented could potentially be brought into the formal sector, for example. The combination of different types of economies also needs to be considered. International actors and the Afghan government have targeted the poppy industry in Afghanistan in order to stem funding for the Taliban. This industry, however, as highlighted in much current literature on Afghanistan, also provides coping livelihoods for a vast number of Afghanis. In the absence of alternatives, this policy of eradication could alienate local populations from government officials and local tribal elites who support the policy.

Studdard, K., 2004, 'War Economies in a Regional Context: Overcoming the Challenges of Transformation', International Peace Academy, New York
What is the relationship between the regional dimensions of war economies and peacebuilding in post-conflict situations? This report argues that the failure to consider the regional dynamics of war economies undermines peacebuilding efforts. Policy-makers should distinguish between economic activities that pose a threat to peace processes and activities that contribute to social and economic stability. Certain informal regional economic activities that are presently ignored or criminalised should be incorporated into peacebuilding and reconstruction strategies.

Wennman, A., 2005, ‘Resourcing the Recurrence of Intrastate Conflict: Parallel Economies and Their Implications for Peacebuilding’, Security Dialogue, Vol. 36, No. 4, 479-494
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Felbab-Brown, Vanda, 2009, 'Peacekeepers Among Poppies: Afghanistan, Illicit Economies and Intervention', International Peacekeeping, vol. 16, no. 1, pp. 100-114
What have been the effects of counter-narcotics policies in Afghanistan since 2001? Have eradication campaigns been successful? This article argues that aggressive opium poppy eradication programmes have been premature and counterproductive. They have not increased stability or undermined the counter-insurgency. It concludes that the most important role peacekeeping forces can play is providing security.

For discussion and resources on corruption, see the governance programming section in this guide.

For resources on organised crime, see ‘serious crimes’ in the conflict-affected and fragile states section of the GSDRC’s justice guide.

Livelihoods and Employment

Livelihoods are “the means by which households obtain and maintain access to the resources necessary to ensure their immediate and long-term survival” (USAID 2005: 2). It is acknowledged that livelihoods and employment require sustained attention beginning early in the recovery process. Meeting these needs is essential to ease suffering and help people in conflict-affected societies to re-establish their lives. Active employment is also considered crucial for occupying demobilised combatants and unemployed civilian youth, and committing them to the peace process. Nonetheless, economic strategies for international assistance interventions still seem to fail to direct sufficient attention and funding to livelihood and employment generation. It is often assumed instead that long-term growth through macroeconomic stabilisation can be relied upon for job creation.

Livelihoods and self-employment can be supported through grants for small and medium enterprises, access to microfinance and credit institutions, and the establishment of infrastructure to facilitate remittances. These mechanisms are usually not sufficient, however, for generating significant employment. Large public works projects may be needed to jump-start employment. Ultimately though, long-term employment generation will likely rely heavily upon private sector development (see private sector development below).

United Nations, 2009, ‘United Nations Policy for Post-Conflict Employment Generation, Income Generation and Reintegration’, United Nations, Geneva
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USAID, 2005, ‘Livelihoods and Conflict: A Toolkit for Intervention’, USAID, Washington
The failure of livelihoods can contribute to conflict by weakening society’s social fabric and forcing people to resort to violence in order to obtain necessary resources. This toolkit examines the relationship between conflict and livelihoods and presents lessons learned from programmes promoting sustainable livelihoods. Rebuilding infrastructures and agricultural inventories, fostering market linkages and rebuilding trust among agricultural communities all constitute legitimate livelihood programmes.

Justino, P., 2009, ‘The Impact of Armed Civil Conflict on Household Welfare and Policy Responses’, HiCN Working Paper, no. 61, Households in Conflict Network, Institute of Development Studies, Brighton
How does armed conflict impact on households and how do they respond to and cope with it? This paper examines the direct and indirect effects of conflicts and shows that the indirect effects are channelled through markets, political institutions and social networks. Until there is more research on the fundamental processes linking armed civil conflict and household welfare, it will be difficult to develop effective policies for preventing and resolving conflicts.

Woodward, S. L. 2002, ‘Economic Priorities for Peace Implementation’, Policy Paper Series on Peace Implementation, International Peace Institute, New York
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Strachan, A.L., 2013, ‘Peacebuilding and economic growth’, GSDRC Helpdesk Research Report 1044, GSDRC, University of Birmingham
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For further discussion and resources on livelihoods and employment, see ‘livelihoods and employment’ in the early recovery section of this guide and ‘socioeconomic programming’ in the stabilisation section of this guide.

Economic recovery and growth

Although aid can address the needs of populations in conflict-affected countries in the short-term, countries need to develop the capacity to generate sufficient resources on their own. This requires economic recovery and sustained growth. A strengthened state, particularly an effective civil service, is essential for promoting growth. The pattern of growth should be one that aims to lower the risk of renewed conflict. Indeed, many analysts argue that conflict prevention should take precedence over growth, because macroeconomic growth policies such as low inflation and balanced budgets may create societal tensions. Rapid economic reform may lead to narrow forms of development where only a small sector of the population benefit from growth, posing a significant threat to peace in post-conflict countries.

Key recovery priorities for conflict-affected countries are to expand employment rapidly, reduce horizontal inequalities, build a sustainable fiscal basis for the state, and seek to lessen rent-seeking associated with the presence of valuable natural resources (UNDP 2008). How these priorities are fulfilled will differ from country to country. It is important to understand local coping mechanisms and drivers of recovery and to build on these social dynamics and institutional processes. 

Given the importance of economic activity, it is possible to incorporate specific attention to transformative peacebuilding in economic processes (see the peacebuilding models section of this guide). These activities may include for example agricultural cooperatives that incorporate divided groups, multi-ethnic workforces, and procurement and business links across ethnic groups. Working together can create an entry point for dialogue and may facilitate relationship building.

Addison, T., Le Billon, P., and Murshed, S. M., 2001, 'Finance in Conflict and Reconstruction', Discussion Paper No. 2001/44, World Institute for Development Economics Research of the United Nations University (UNU-WIDER), Helsinki
What role does finance play in war and post-conflict reconstruction? Domestic and foreign finance can determine who wins the war, the duration of the conflict and can contribute to increased post-conflict poverty and inequality. Action to reduce war finance (and to increase its cost) may encourage peace, provided such action is implemented across the international community. Financial liberalisation during reconstruction may foster economic instability and endanger peace. Strong financial regulation and supervision is important.

UNDP, 2008, 'Strengthening the Indigenous Drivers of Post-Conflict Economic Recovery‘, Chapter 3 in Post-Conflict Economic Recovery: Enabling Local Ingenuity, Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery (BCPR), UNDP, New York, pp. 48-105
How can the international community best support economic recovery after conflict? This chapter examines a community-based approach to stimulating economic activities in countries emerging from conflict. It contends that economic recovery is quicker and more sustainable when it is built on 'indigenous drivers'; local actors have the strongest long-term incentive to engage in activities conducive to sustained economic recovery. The indigenous drivers approach allows people and communities, as well as national institutions, to establish the priorities for post-conflict recovery and for reforming institutions.

Jensen, D. and Lonergan, S. (Eds.), 2012, Assessing and Restoring Natural Resources in Post-­Conflict Peacebuilding, Earthscan, London
A country’s natural resources are an important asset for kick-starting economic recovery after conflict. Yet they can also play a role in conflict. The international community’s responses to the connections between natural resources, conflict, and peacebuilding have been mixed. What lessons have emerged from efforts to integrate post-conflict environmental assessment into peacebuilding? This book shares twenty post-conflict case studies which look at: post-conflict environmental assessments; remediation of environmental hot spots; restoration of natural resources and ecosystems; and environmental dimensions of infrastructure and reconstruction. The cases show that it is important to integrate natural resource management and environmental sustainability into peacebuilding.
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Vrbensky, R., 2009, ‘Can Development Prevent Conflict? Integrated Area-Based Development in the Western Balkans’, Conflict, Security and Development, vol. 9, no. 1, pp. 75-110
How successful is the area based development approach (ABD) in contributing to conflict prevention and linking reconstruction and development? This article discusses the strengths and limitations of the approach, drawing on two ABD programmes in South and Southwest Serbia. It argues that although ABD is often effective in responding to complex conflict characteristics on sub-national levels, under its current conceptualisation, it responds ineffectively to the full complexity of issues related to conflict and development on multiple levels.

UNDP, 2008, 'Macroeconomic Policy Considerations in Post-Conflict Recovery', Post-Conflict Economic Recovery: Enabling Local Ingenuity, Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery (BCPR), UNDP, New York, pp. 106-143
How can post-conflict macroeconomic planning prevent conflict relapse and support recovery? This section from the 2008 UNDP Crisis Prevention Report investigates how to craft post-conflict macroeconomic policy as part of an effective post-conflict recovery and reconstruction process. Data available from post-conflict countries since 1989 reveals that macroeconomic recovery measures can decrease the chance of conflict recurrence by addressing deep, structural issues of inequality and distribution. Increasing growth rates evens out economic disparities and helps people rebuild their lives.

Dahl, M. and Høyland, B., 2012, ‘Peace on quicksand? Challenging the conventional wisdom about economic growth and post-conflict risks’, Journal of Peace Research, no. 49
Does economic growth reduce the risk of post-conflict peace collapse? Using data from the UCDP/PRIO Armed Conflict Database, the authors of this article challenge Collier, Hoeffler and Söderbom’s finding that economic growth reduces the risk of post-conflict peace collapse – particularly when the UN is present with a peace mission. At best the results of its risk-reducing effects are mixed. Some of the models even suggest that economic growth may increase the risk of post-conflict peace collapse. Policymakers should be aware that the effect of economic growth on the risk of post-conflict peace collapse may be ambiguous.
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For further discussion and resources on transformative peacebuilding through economic activity, see ‘social renewal and coexistence programming’ in the reconciliation, social renewal and inclusiveness section of this guide.


Private sector development

Private sector development is essential for sustainable, self-sufficient economies and employment generation. In immediate post-conflict contexts, however, domestic and international investment is usually limited. The state plays a key role in creating the enabling environment for the private sector. This includes basic economic infrastructure and a regulatory framework, the development of credit markets, stimulation of investment and promotion of exports, and human resource development.

Donor strategies for private sector development in conflict-affected countries have been the subject of debate. Donors have focused in large part on support for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), access to credit and financial services and policies of economic liberalisation. While some have found this to be an effective strategy, others argue that it is limited in its growth and employment potential. Instead, they argue that greater attention needs to be paid to the development of employment-creating sectors, such as industrial production.

Private sector development in conflict-affected countries should involve consultation with a broad range of actors, including political factions, social groups, state actors, displaced populations and other conflict-affected groups, and local and international private sector actors. International actors may include members of the diaspora, regional players and major transnational companies. This process can help to identify particular needs and products and services that can be tailored to meet these needs. The financial sector, for example can offer new products in conflict-affected societies, such as remittance transfers services, microfinance, and reconstruction loans.

Bray, J., 2009, 'The Role of Private Sector Actors in Post-Conflict Recovery’, Conflict, Security and Development, vol. 9, no. 1, pp. 1-26
What role does business play in post-conflict recovery? How can policymakers ensure private sector actors play a positive, rather than a negative, role? This article argues that it is essential to differentiate between different types of business. Each type will play a different role depending on how it assesses risk and opportunity in the aftermath of conflict.

Mac Sweeney, N., 2009, ‘Private Sector Development in Post-Conflict Countries: A Review of Current Literature and Practice’, Secretariat of the Donor Committee on Enterprise Development, Cambridge, UK
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Joras, U., 2008, '"Financial Peacebuilding" – Impacts of the Nepalese Conflict on the Financial Sector and its Potential for Peacebuilding', Working Paper, no. 3, Swisspeace, Bern
How can the local financial sector contribute to peacebuilding in countries emerging from violent conflict? This paper explores the issue, with a focus on Nepal. The Nepalese private commercial financial sector is relatively healthy and should have the economic flexibility to support national peacebuilding efforts. External encouragement and awareness-raising is required for the financial sector to appreciate how it can influence conflict and peacebuilding and to increase understanding of the economic long- and short-term benefits of peace its their own operations.

Divjak, B. and Pugh, M., 2008, 'The Political Economy of Corruption in Bosnia and Herzegovina', International Peacekeeping, vol.15, no. 3, pp.  373 – 386
Governance structures instituted in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) by the Dayton Peace Accord and the United Nations Office of the High Representative (OHR) have facilitated widespread corruption. This paper analyses structural and cultural factors which affect the relationship between corruption and the constitutional arrangements based on the Accords. Incentives such as social protection and income generation are needed to redress local level clientelism and ethno-national loyalties and replace social contracts forged by political elites.

Natural resource governance and the environment

It is increasingly recognised that peacebuilding efforts should extend to developing mechanisms to manage natural resources such that resource use is sustainable and can support stability, livelihoods and long-term development. 

Mechanisms such as the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights, involving companies in the extractive and energy sectors, governments and NGOs; and the Extractives Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI), which sets a global standard for transparency in oil, gas and mining, indicate that it may be possible to reduce the risk of extractive sector-related conflicts through corporate social responsibility and multi-stakeholder initiatives.

Sustainable management of scarce resources cannot be solved unilaterally. It requires cooperative processes, which have the potential to contribute to transformative peacebuilding (see peacebuilding models). Regional water cooperation in the Middle East, for example, is considered essential for health security, livelihoods, and to peacefully manage water disputes that might otherwise fuel conflict. Water discussions can potentially provide an entry point for broader dialogue. 

Godnick, W., Klein, D., González-Posso, C., Mendoza, I., and Meneses, S., 2008, 'Conflict Economy, International Cooperation and Non Renewable Natural Resoures', Initiative for Peacebuilding, International Alert
What is the relationship between the management of non-renewable natural resources and conflict? This report analyses the political and economic contexts of Colombia, Ecuador and Peru to assess government and donor policies for mitigating conflict in the exploitation of non-renewable natural resources. It concludes that the EU and other donors should adopt and encourage its companies to adopt more conflict-sensitive business practices to ensure more mutually beneficial development for communities and corporations.

UNEP, 2009, ‘From Conflict to Peacebuilding: The Role of Natural Resources and the Environment’, United Nations Environment Programme, Nairobi
This study argues that the recognition of the contribution of environmental issues to violent conflict underscores their potential as pathways for cooperation and the consolidation of peace. Integrating environment and natural resources into peacebuilding strategies is now a security imperative.

Kramer, A., 2008, 'Regional Water Cooperation and Peacebuilding in the Middle East', Initiative for Peacebuilding, International Alert
What impact can cooperation in water resource management make on peacebuilding efforts? This paper reviews case studies of two water cooperation initiatives in the Middle East to determine whether such efforts can act as pathways for building peace. It concludes that while cooperation over water resources may serve as a starting point for dialogue, further support from external actors is needed to overcome existing inequalities and political obstacles that obstruct progress toward peace.

GSDRC, 2009, 'Community-based Approaches and the Extractives Sector in Situations of Fragility and Conflict', Helpdesk Research Report, GSDRC, Birmingham
This report identifies a number of recommendations on community engagement in the extractives sector with a particular focus on fragile and conflict-affected countries. It also explores the use of the Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) model in such contexts.

For further discussion and resources on transformative peacebuilding through economic activity, see ‘social renewal and coexistence programming’ in the reconciliation, social renewal and inclusiveness section of this guide.

Cultural heritage

Cultural heritage is significant to cultural identity and a sense of nationhood. Its preservation is linked to nation-building processes. Recovery and peacebuilding interventions need to incorporate the rehabilitation of cultural heritage. A broad perspective of culture heritage goes beyond cultural property and includes traditions, customs, values and methods of ensuring the continuity of a community.

Studies have shown, however, that oftentimes international interventions have not only failed to protect cultural heritage, but have contributed to their destruction. A common failure is the refusal by international donors to support the repair and reconstruction of traditional vernacular housing. This housing represents not only built heritage but a ‘way of life’, encompassing traditional building skills. Instead, generic and standardised housing have been imposed that do not address the needs of local inhabitants.

The literature on cultural heritage stresses the importance of involving local communities in rehabilitation efforts: only efforts that incorporate local needs and draw on local values, building technologies and skills will be sustainable. In addition, it is important to involve local actors in inventorying heritage as their definition of heritage items may differ from national and international actors.

Cultural Emergency Response, 2006, 'Culture is a Basic Need: Responding to Cultural Emergencies', Conference Report, 25-26 September, Prince Clause Fund, The Hague
How do disasters and violent conflict affect culture and cultural heritage?  How can policymakers and practitioners seek to protect and preserve culture during humanitarian emergencies? This report argues that any humanitarian emergency is a cultural emergency and any cultural emergency is a humanitarian emergency. 

Manhart, C., 2004, ‘UNESCO’s Mandate and Recent Activities for the Rehabilitation of Afghanistan’s Cultural Heritage’, RICR/IRRC, vol. 86, no. 854
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Mumtaz, B. and Noschis, K., eds., 2004, ‘Development of Kabul: Reconstruction and Planning Issues’, Papers from 10th Architecture and Behaviour colloquium, 4-7 April, Ticino, Switzerland
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