Bad Behavior? Explaining Performance in International Peacebuilding Organizations

Project funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation
 
Project Coordinator: Stephanie Hofmann
Principal Collaborator: Susanna Campbell
 
 
Introduction
 
International Organizations (IOs), International Non-Governmental Organizations (INGOs), and bilateral donors give an increasing amount of their time and money to build peace in countries recovering from civil war and other situations of armed conflict. A glance at international headlines points to the huge difficulties facing these interventions, which aim to transform a state where neighbor kills neighbor into one where former enemies govern and live together peacefully. International actors aim to do this through organizational structures that are designed to respond to the timeframes and priorities of their headquarters and funders outside of the country, not to the war-affected population that they aim to serve. In spite of the huge challenges facing international peacebuilding efforts, they sometimes succeed in building a modicum of peace.
 
IOs, INGOs, and bilateral donors have made important contributions to post-war transitions, not just by providing money to support negotiations or by deploying peacekeeping operations, but also by implementing targeted, nuanced and highly adaptable peacebuilding interventions. Countries like Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Burundi are no longer fraught with devastating civil war and are now run by democratically elected governments, allowing better representation of and improved responsiveness to the needs of at least some of the population. However minimal these changes may be, there are surely not insignificant, especially at the sub-national level. Of course, international actors are not solely responsible for these incremental successes, but empirics point to their instrumental role in some of them. How do we explain these instances of IO, INGO, and bilateral donor peacebuilding performance, in which they help a country advance along its war-to-peace transition?
 
 
Project Outcomes
 
This project was awarded a two‐year grant from the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) in 2013 and was completed in November 2015.
 
The project had two concrete objectives. First, it tested and refined a theory developed by Dr. Susanna Campbell that explains IO, INGO and bilateral donor performance in war-to-peace transitions, with the ultimate aim of creating a generalizable theory. Second, it expanded on her work undertaken so far to cover different regional organizations engaged in peacebuilding. In order to achieve their research objectives, Dr. Susanna Campbell and Prof. Stephanie Hofmann will combined their extensive academic knowledge and field research experience, and jointly studied various case study organizations over a ten to fifteen year period in two countries: Haiti and Liberia. The focal point of analysis were therefore country-level offices of IOs, INGOs, and government aid agencies that have a clearly specified peacebuilding aims, within these two countries.
 
The findings from this project have significance for the theoretical debates within International Relations on the performance of IOs, INGOs, and donor aid agencies and the role of accountability, legitimacy, informal institutions, and institutional change therein. It also sheds light on the effectiveness of current policies and tools intended to improve peacebuilding performance, and provides a potentially important framework for peacebuilding organizations to assess and improve their positive contribution to post-war transitions.
 
CCDP research assistant for this project was Barbara Bravo.
 
The main outputs of this project are two articles in peer-reviewed journals (currently under review with International Organization and the Cambridge Review of International Affairs) as well as a book manuscript, Global Governance and Local Peace: Accountability and Performance in International Peacebuilding, that has been submitted to Cambridge University Press.