A group of scholars and policymakers working in the field of post-conflict peacebuilding came together to discuss what new ideas scholars could propose on the basis of their empirical research for policy and practice on post-conflict peacebuilding. A major theme that emerged was the challenge of how academics and policymakers can most effectively communicate with each other.
Workshops: Peace and State-building
The workshop convened a group of younger scholars and policy practitioners to address the problem of the gap between academic knowledge on post-conflict state-building and operational practice. The participants focused upon: (1) substantive knowledge and perspectives on post-conflict state-building from their respective studies; (2) the goals, methods, existing models, and institutional aspects of creating a network of scholars; and (3) the goals, challenges, ethics, methods, and value to policy makers of connecting academic and policy communities. The discussion ranged from the benefits to researchers and the production of more and better research via connections with the policy community, to very useful suggestions from policy practitioners of what research they need, the most usable forms, and what practitioners can offer the academic community in return.
This workshop convened a group of scholars and policy practitioners to discuss Susan L. Woodward's paper, “Why State-Building?” Her argument is that the study and practice of post-conflict reconstruction lacks consensus on the substance of what is meant by the “state.” This lack of a common concept of the state makes operations more difficult. Particularly now, as an organizational basis for coordinated action (such as the UN Peacebuilding Commission) is being developed, a common conceptual and analytical framework is needed in order to define the core elements of state-building and set priorities for policy implementation.
The workshop covered the three aspects that Woodward argues are the most important for policy practitioners to have in mind in programming and implementation: (1) the essential, priority roles of the state in the early stages of peacebuilding (and prevention) and why they are essential; (2) the respective roles of insiders and outsiders (sometimes referred to as the ownership question) in this process of state reconstruction or transformation; and (3) the particular characteristics of transitions and why they need to be understood to program and implement a successful transition away from war and fragility. In the discussion, participants considered the historical development of the state-building agenda, the unique nature of the post-conflict moment, typologies of cases based on pre-intervention conditions and the nature of interveners, Woodward's proposal for increasing consensus on the state-building agenda by prioritizing building legitimate authority over the use of force, democratic legitimacy, and effective administration, and, finally, how academic research can influence policy development and implementation.