Local peacebuilding in a victor’s peace. Why local peace fails without national reconciliation

2019-02-25T14:01:08Z (GMT) by Giulia Piccolino
The literature on peacebuilding has increasingly emphasized the importance of the local level – a trend that has been called the local turn. For some researchers, the local turn can improve international peacebuilding interventions, while for others it is an agenda to promote an emancipatory and legitimate peace. There is however mixed evidence backing the argument that addressing local level issues in peacebuilding can make a substantial difference. The local turn reposes on assumptions that appear particularly problematic in an environment characterised by the lack of an elite-level pact, such as a conflict terminated in a military victory. Looking at the crisis in Côte d'Ivoire, which terminated in 2011 with the defeat of former president Laurent Gbagbo, this paper highlights how the lack of elite level reconciliation compromises the effectiveness of actions aiming to promote local ‘social cohesion’. It also shows how the discourse and practices of the local turn can be appropriated by semi-authoritarian post-conflict governments in order to depoliticize the peacebuilding process. It concludes that the popularity of the ‘local turn’ among peacebuilders might be due more to the opportunity that it offers to eschew delicate national-level political issues, than to its supposed emancipatory potential.