Building States to Build Peace? A Critical Analysis
Agencies throughout the development, humanitarian, political and defence fields have recently endorsed the centrality of state institutions in post-war peacebuilding. But how can external actors go about peacebuilding in a way that reinforces effective and legitimate states without doing harm? Drawing on an International Peace Institute project, this article calls into question the assumption that peacebuilding can be boiled down to building state institutions. The article argues that the process of building states can actually undermine peace, postulating five tensions between peacebuilding and statebuilding even as it asserts that strong state institutions remain crucial for consolidating peace. Identifying three crucial state functions for peacebuilding, the article emphasises the complex interrelationships among legitimacy, state capacity and security in post-conflict societies.