|Title||Embracing difference and the deferral of self-government: a critical analysis of the framing and practice of contemporary peace building|
|Authors||Pedreny Bargues, P and Bargues Pedreny Pol|
This thesis analyses how dominant policy approaches to peacebuilding have moved away from a single and universalised understanding of peace to be achieved through a top-down strategy of democratisation and economic liberalisation, prevalent at the beginning of 1990s. Instead, throughout the 2000s, peacebuilders have increasingly adopted a commitment to cultivating a bottom-up and hybrid peace building process that is context-sensitive and intended to be more respectful of the needs and values of post-war societies. The projects of statebuilding in Kosovo and, to a lesser extent, in Bosnia are examined to illustrate the shift. By capturing this shift, I seek to argue that contemporary practitioners of peace are sharing the sensibility of the theoretical critics of liberalism. These critics have long contended that post-war societies cannot be governed from ‘above’ and have advocated the adoption of a bottom-up approach to peacebuilding. Now, both peace practitioners and their critics share the tendency to embrace difference in peacebuilding operations, but this shift has failed to address meaningfully the problems and concerns of post-conflict societies.
The conclusion of this research is that, drawing on the assumption that these societies are not capable of undertaking sovereign acts because of their problematic inter-subjective frames, the discourses of peacebuilding (in policy-making and academic critique) have increasingly legitimised an open-ended role of interference by external agencies, which now operate from ‘below’. Peacebuilding has turned into a long-term process, in which international and local actors engage relationally in the search for ever-more emancipatory hybrid outcomes, but in which self-government and self-determination are constantly deferred. Processes of emphasising difference have thus denied the political autonomy of post-war societies and have continuously questioned the political and human equality of these populations in a hierarchically divided world.