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Peacebuilding as Politics: Cultivating Peace in Fragile Societies

Elizabeth M. Cousens and Chetan Kumar, editors, with Karin Wermester
Peacebuilding as Politics: Cultivating Peace in Fragile Societies
ISBN: 978-1-55587-921-1
ISBN: 978-1-55587-946-4
2000/248 pages/LC: 00-034210
A Project of the International Peace Institute

"Contains much food for thought on strategies for peacebuilding."—Sally Morphet, International Peacekeeping

"A compelling critique of the peacebuilding and democratization enterprises."—Melissa Labonte, Global Governance

"An excellent volume which offers important insights into the dynamics of peacebuilding in the case study countries and which, in its own terms, is critical of the failures of both local and international actors."—Neil Cooper, Contemporary Security Policy


Although the idea of postconflict peacebuilding appeared to hold great promise after the end of the Cold War, within a very few years the opportunities for peacebuilding seemed to pale beside the obstacles to it. This volume examines the successes and failures of large-scale interventions to build peace in El Salvador, Cambodia, Haiti, Somalia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The authors shed light on the unique conditions for and constraints on peacebuilding in each country and examine the quality and coherence of international responses. Arguing that the defining priority of peacebuilding initiatives should be the development of authoritative, legitimate political mechanisms to resolve internal conflicts without violence, they present "peacebuilding as politics" as an effective organizing principle for determining the best range, timing, and priorities of international action.


Elizabeth M. Cousens is chief of staff for the UN Mission in Nepal. Chetan Kumar is senior evaluation adviser in the Office of Foreign Assistance Resources, US Department of State.  He is author of Building Peace in Haiti. Karin Wermester is a program officer in the Research Program at IPA.


  • Introduction—E.M. Cousens.
  • Peacebuilding in Haiti—C. Kumar.
  • Somalia: Building Sovereignty or Restoring Peace?—A. Jan.
  • Peacebuilding in Cambodia: Legitimacy and Power—M. Doyle.
  • Building Peace in Bosnia—E.M. Cousens.
  • Building Peace in El Salvador: From Exception to Rule—R.C. Orr.
  • Conclusion—C. Kumar.