Peacebuilding and Rule of Law in Africa: Just Peace?

Peacebuilding and Rule of Law in Africa: Just Peace?

Peacebuilding and Rule of Law in Africa: Just Peace?

Peacebuilding and Rule of Law in Africa: Just Peace?


The promotion of the rule of law has become an increasingly important element of peacekeeping and peacebuilding operations, particularly in Africa, where there have been numerous internal armed conflicts and missions over the last decade.

This book explores the expanding international efforts to promote rule of law in countries emerging from violent conflict. With a focus on Africa, the authors critically examines the impact of these activities in relation to liberal peacebuilding, rule of law institutions, and the range of non-state providers of justice and security. They also assess the virtues and limitations of rule of law reform efforts, and policy alternatives. It brings together expert scholars and practioners from politics, law, anthropology and conflict studies, and features detailed case studies on Rwanda, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Making an important contribution to debates about peacebuilding, and assisting specific efforts in reforming the rule of law after conflict, this book will be of interest to students and scholars of international relations, law, African politics, post-conflict reconstruction, peace and conflict studies, as well as practitioners in the UN, development agencies and NGOs.


Since the end of the Cold War, numerous internal armed conflicts have been brought to a close, and following most, if not all, of these resolutions, the international community, as well as the affected state and society, have engaged in what is now generally called peacebuilding. Many recent scholars have even begun to identify a liberal peacebuilding consensus, for good and ill, that specifies a key set of activities as central to post-conflict pacification. These are often heavily contested in methodological terms, but the broad goal of building a liberal state with all of its expected regimes and institutions is not. This is despite the fact that the types of governance which peacebuilding activities construct in post-conflict zones reflect almost exclusively the developed world’s social, political, and economic experiences. In particular, some analysts have singled out the emphasis on the reconstruction of governance, and in particular its creation as liberal democratic governance, as problematic. This emphasis, even imposition, of a liberal model on a post-conflict state, it has been argued, is often a poor fit, unwelcome, and may even result in the renewal of conflict. It is argued that the competition inherent in liberalized political and economic structures can deepen existing divisions or even create new ones.

For this reason, some scholars have suggested that a strategy of ‘institutionalization before liberalization’ might be advisable: embedding and reforming structures of law and governance so as to manage the inevitable social conflict that attends liberalization. However, there remains a danger that such emphasis upon institutionalization entails the same imposition of international preferences that the previous emphasis on liberalization did; furthermore it is likely to favour official structures and elites over civil society. Finally, there appears to be an implicit assumption that institutional reform is in some sense neutral, and thus able to contain political contestation, rather than being a political activity in itself. Key among the tools of institutional reform has been the use of ‘rule of law’ programming, including reform of laws, constitutions, judiciaries, the use of transitional justice mechanisms, and engagement with the ‘informal’ or ‘traditional’ justice sector. Many of these . . .

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