Wednesday, 19 August 2009

No. 1 What Is Peace Building? No. 2 What is Liberal Peace Building?

1. What is Peace Building?
"Inspired by a reductive and teoleogical informed reading of the significance of 1989, the burgeoning optimism of the post-Cold War period was the defining force in the birth of the concept of peace building." (Heathershaw; 2008; 600)
The pursuit of peace has only recently been adopted by International Development although, it has been around as a philosophical dream for time immemorial and as a stand-alone concept within peace studies since at least the 19th century*. As Uvin states, "The development enterprise spent the first three decades of its charmed life in total agnosticism towards matters of conflict and insecurity." (2002) The outbreak of conflict entailed the flight of development workers and the influx of humanitarians. Furthermore the “conflict dynamics” were not analysed nor addressed since they were not considered part of the development mandate (Ibid).
The passing of the Cold War is a significant marker for the paradigm shift it ushered in. As the "cold war order" gave way to the "new-world order" (Duffield; 1994) it spelled new directions for notions of sovereignty and interventionism. As Bradbury puts it, the international community was "liberated from the diplomatic straightjacket of sovereignty." (Bradbury; 2003) The Westphalian practice of non-intervention that was even "strengthened during the Cold War period" (Goodhand; 2006; p. 50) gave way to "an explosion of international concern to respond to and resolve conflicts" (Goodhand; 2006; p.1) outside of the state-sovereignty paradigm. Fittingly, the UN secretary general Boutros-Ghali proclaimed the end of "absolute and exclusive sovereignty." (1992)
Another way to approach the build up towards peace building era is to consider the mood at the end of the Cold War. The seemingly unforseen timing of the collapse of the Soviet Union and the fall of Communism was famously hailed as 'the end of history': "The Cold War ended for all intents and purposes with the dismemberment of the Soviet Union in 1990. The conflict between the superpowers had so shaped international events...that the fall of Communism felt like 'the end of history' itself.'" (Montgomery & Rondinelli; 2004; p. 68) The failure of the Soviet Union on a state level with its "profound implications for the idea of statehood itself" (Clapham; 2002) was one of many state break downs to follow in the Third World too but, for the time being it symbolised the "triumph of liberal capitalism" (Goodhand; 2006; p. 79). This victory brought about a sense of "optimism and enthusiasm" (Yannis; 2002; p.71) or, the "optimism of a peaceful new world order" (Bradbury; 2003). However, this "expected 'peace dividend' failed to materialise" (Richards; 2005). Somalia, for instance, became one of first test cases of international intervention and peace building for "humanitarian reasons" (Yannis; 2002).
The reading of the end of the Cold War is interesting as a mood as suggested above: euphoria as well as disappointment ensued followed by rolling-up of sleeves to intervene in conflicts. What is interesting is the unravelling and evolution of the concepts of the concepts of war and peace. As Richards describes it, "War - we thought we knew - was Super-Power rivalry. Peace would supervene with victory of one system over the other (or ideological accommodation). " (Richards; 2005) The fact that conflict - seemingly non-ideological at that - continued to plague the world prompted new waves of analysis. State collapse in war-torn countries was a "disturbing new phenomenon." (Helman & Ratner; 1992 in Yannis; 2002; p.65). Kaplan called it the Coming Anarchy which would threaten peace and stability of the West itself. (Kaplan; 1994 in Yannis; 2000) Richards groups these "explanations of 'new war'" as "'Malthus with guns', the 'new barbarism' and the 'greed not grievance' debates." (Richards; 2005) Kaplan's doomsday views fall under 'new barbarism' grouping of Richards. Essentially, a lot of non-political exploration and explanation of conflict in developing countries occurred on the policy and academic levels.
Peace and security were reduced to an individual level. With the end of the Cold War being hailed as the 'end of history', Boutros-Ghali's Agenda for Peace "set out to take full advantage of the de-politicisation of warfare and development." (Stockton; 2004; p. 13) Furthermore, "consistent with this vision of the triumph of liberal capitalism over totalitarian socialism, the secretary-general blamed any ongoing conflict upon under-development and historical misunderstanding about identities." Yannis describes the post-Cold War shift as follows: "the centre of gravity in international relations has shifted away from exclusively state-centred considerations and increasingly towards the individual." (2002; p. 70) The shift has brought about what Yannis further describes as "an international society with a human face." What we had was the convenient and opportune moment for the expansion of the United Nations' role as well as the advance of liberal capitalism and democracy by the West: "In the aftermath of the Cold War, proponents of both 'End of History' and 'New World Order' theories advocated the principles of market economy and multiparty democracy as global recipes for development, peace and stability." (Yannis; 2002; p. 71) This moment represents the convergence of peace-making/security, development and humanitarianism. (Goodhand; 2006; p.78) The convergence can be illustrated by Bourtos-Ghali's "totalising" speech in 1993: "Without peace there can be no development and there can be no democracy. Without development, the basis for democracy will be lacking and societies will tend to fall into conflict. And without democracy, no sustainable development will occur; without such development, peace cannot long be maintained." (Heathershaw; 2008) Democracy, development and peace are linked together but, in a chicken-or-egg sequence; we do not quite know which comes first. As Uvin remarks, "there is scarce secure evidence of a casual relationship between economic development and peace." (Uvin; 2002) Moreover, "Scholarly opinions are divided on these matters, and even if there was consensus, the capacity of the aid enterprise to affect these factors with any degree of speed or certainty is exceedingly small." (Ibid)
What does this human-security centred peace building entail in practice? In the aftermath of the end of the Cold War, the UN envisaged for itself a broad role in the area of peace, security and development. Boutros-Ghali "listed five specific measures: confidence-building, fact-finding missions, early-warning networks, preventive deployment, and demilitarised zones." (Ackermann; 2003; p. 340) This has further been consolidated by Boutros-Ghali's successor Kofi Annan's "proposals to create a peace building commission, support office and fund." (Barnett et al; 2007; p. 36) The ambitious range of this peace agenda "entails deep intervention in aspects of governance, humanitarian aid and development." (Richmond, 2003 in Goodhand; 2006; p. 80) It essentially requires omnipresence. The vision for 'conflict prevention' failed early on in the case of Rwanda. Uvin states that "the tragedy of Rwanda more than any other, demonstrated to both development and humanitarian actors that 'normal professionalism,' even if implemented successfully, could lead to disaster if conflict dynamics were not understood." (2002; 6) However, it is difficult to imagine that conflict prevention - as in the case of the methodological genocide that occurred over a couple of months - is simply a matter of deepening our knowledge of conflict dynamics or re-thinking our post-Cold-War paradigms.
Peace building enjoyed a spectacular rise as "UN peacemaking activities have increased nearly fourfold from four in 1992 to 15 in 2002." (Goodhand; 2006; p. 80) Moreover despite the suffering of quite a few setbacks "the original peace-building paradigm remained generally intact for most war-torn nations until September 2001." (Stockton in Donini, Niland and Wermester; 2004; p. 27) As Stockton further explains (Ibid) this consisted of "a sequence beginning with a negotiated settlement, followed by the deployment of impartial UN Chapter VI peace-keepers, internationally supervised elections, and international aid-driven demobilisation, resettlement, reconstruction, and development."
Peace building has its detractors. We have discussed above peace building's a-political approach as far its analysis of conflict in the new post-Cold-War 'end of history' context is concerned. This applies to the development enterprise in general with which peace and security have merged and is summed up by Uvin as follows: " the extent to which the development enterprise engages explicitly in the political realm, running counter to the norm of sovereignty and the practice of 'a-politicalness' that historically underlie its work." (Uvin; 2002; p.6) In the conclusion to the same article Uvin states: "The key problems of the operational work in the field are the weakness of the knowledge and the ethical base on which this work rests." (Uvin; 2002; p. 21) On a similar note, Featherstone states "Peace keeping is not a highly theorised topic." (Featherstone; 2002; p. 191) For Featherstone, the "unproblematised discourse of modernity which is at the heart of both International Relations and Conflict Resolution theory and practice" and, "problematic discourses of violence" make peace keeping and peace building of the Agenda for Peace kind limited in terms of long term change. (Featherstone; 2002; p. 190, 197, 201) Furthermore, "there are critical differences among actors regarding its conceptualisation and operationalisation" (Barnett, Km, O'Donnell, and Sitea; 2007; p. 36) despite the 'quest for coherence.' (Donini, Niland, and Wermester; 2004; p.2-3) It also seems that although "we see a lot of interest in peacebuilding, much of it is at the level of rhetoric and not at the level of resources." (Barnett, Km, O'Donnell, and Sitea; 2007; p. 36)
Amongst the most critical critiques of peace building is both a critique as well as the nature of the beast itself - that peace building in the post-Cold War context is ultimately a liberal project. Duffield, for example, famously states that the North is actually trying to impose a 'liberal peace' on the South to preserve itself. (2001)
2 What is Liberal Peace Building?
The intellectual foundations of liberal peace lie in Kant's work; in fact, according to Howard peace was invented by Kant. (2001) Howard's The Invention of Peace (2001) argues from a European perspective that while war has been a norm throughout history, peace has been less so. Tracing a broad history of Europe, Howard states that under the reign of priests and princes from 800 to 1789 AD, war was part and parcel of the social and political order sanctioned by king and church. Even as the power and rule of priests and princes gave way to the new order of states, "the institution of war persisted as part of the international order...partly because there were still serious issues of power to be determined, partly because it came naturally both to the ruling classes and to the sovereigns themselves." (Howard; 2001; p.22) War, then, came to be rationalised beyond holy language and more in terms of balance of power, preservation of peace and rights of states.
Until the arrival of the "greatest of intellectual revolutions in the history of mankind" - the Enlightenment - peace was more or less an intermission between wars. (Howard; 2001; p.25) The thinkers of the Enlightenment sought to think of society and state, the general order of things, without war. This "intellectual revolution"'s "most remarkable child" (Howard; 2001; p. 29) was the star philosopher Immanuel Kant. Kant's legacy for Liberalism and specifically Liberal Internationalism is, to borrow Howard's word, "remarkable." Kant was not a fan of human nature but believed peace should be pursued not only for practical reasons but for moral and enlightened ones as well. Today, we speak of the 'Kantian duty to peace.' Kant believed the pursuit of peace "can be imagined to follow logically from human beings' pursuing their rational self interest in the circumstances of the world as we know it." (Doyle; 1997; p. 254)
Howard places the highest accolade on Kant by declaring: "So if anyone could be said to have invented peace as more than a mere pious aspiration, it was Kant.” (Howard; 2001; p.31) His “Perpetual Peace” written in 1795 “predicts the ever-widening pacification of a Liberal pacific union”(Doyle; 1997; p.253) or a “cosmopolitan community” as described by Howard where, mutual needs for security and hospitality would hold this union. (Howard; 2001; p. 31) Kant states that the perpetual peace would be guaranteed by acceptance of three 'definitive articles of peace'; namely, i) states should be republican ii) pacific federation or foedus pacificum iii) a cosmopolitan law to operate in conjunction with the pacific union. (Doyle; 1997; p. 257-258) Peace would first be established among Liberal states where individuals would enjoy republican rights. The pacific union would gradually come to encompass all states gradually. In fact, “if by good fortune one powerful and enlightened nation can form a republic (which is by nature inclined to seek peace), this will provide a focal point for federal association among other states.” (Doyle; 1997; p. 257) One could say along this line that the United States' emergence and hegemony over of the last two hundred years has helped to create the kind of pacific federation around itself as imagined by Kant. As Howard states: “The ruling philosophy of the generation that established the independence of the United States was the very quintessence of the Enlightenment, with its belief in the rights and perfectibility of man and his capacity for peaceful self-government...” (Howard; 2001; p. 28)
Howard's enthusiastic sweeping statement in the European political nation-state and political philosophical context – that was peace was truly only invented not only as a political order but also as an aspiration as a social order by the Enlightenment and Kant – is significant in helping us to understand modern history in terms of attempts to impose global political orders and the Liberal foundation of global discourse on peace – whether it be philosophical or in terms of peacemaking, peace building or peacekeeping. Howard himself excuses his Eurocentric approach to his essay on peace by explaining that “it was in Europe, and its overflow in North America, that there developed the thinking about war and peace that now constitutes the bulk of global discourse about the topic.” (Howard; 2001; p. 7)
Perhaps indeed peace maybe have been more clearly imagined and argued for by Kant than his predecessors. Kant proposed how the populations in Europe's states could exist more peacefully through transitioning to republican states, forging a more cosmopolitan Europe, and so on. - liberal under pinnings of peace building - liberal understanding of war
*"War in human society is as pervasive as the wish for peace is universal." (Thakur; 2002; 405)

1 comment:

  1. Many an afternoon has been enjoyed by a family, bonding over the discussion of liberal peacebuilding. Given that its influence pervades our society, there are just not enough blues songs written about liberal peacebuilding. Since it was first compared to antidisestablishmentarianism much has been said concerning liberal peacebuilding by the easily lead, who form the last great hope for our civilzation.