Liberal peacebuilding too often builds neither peace nor Liberalism. In a growing number of cases, people aren’t rejecting and relegating democracy because it’s bad; they’re challenging it because it isn’t relevant to their priorities and needs. The peacebuilding ‘moment’ – when consent for intervention is present and the opportunity to build a sustainable social contract between peacebuilders and people is most fruitful – is being squandered. This relationship, between governed and governance, relies on mutual needs realization, but there is no formal or informal requirement and mechanism for ascertaining what the ‘subjects’ of peacebuilding might prioritize. Instead, peacebuilders give the ‘subjects’ of peacebuilding what they think they should have.
This legitimacy gap – between what peacebuilders give and what subjects want - is the subject of this book. Through a range of empirical case studies conducted by country specialists, the book reveals that, when asked, people often prioritize roads, electricity, jobs, housing, schooling and pertinent justice (amongst other things) in the immediate aftermath of war. We find that mapping this locus of legitimacy may help develop the kind of relationship upon which the sustainability of any social contract between governed and governance rests.
This book was originally published as a special issue of the Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding.