At War's End: A Critique

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The purpose of peace building is to create conditions for a stable and lasting peace and to prevent the recurrence of large-scale violence in a post-civil war environment. Roland Paris's thesis in At War's End is effectively his claim that the Institutionalization Before Liberalization (IBL) strategy is the only effective way to support a society coming out of civil war, so as to avoid the destabilizing effects of liberalization, and that certain conditions are critical to its success. These particular conditions, as summarized by Paris, include a large, and often invasive, international presence, a long term commitment with no fixed end date or rush to an exit strategy, and large amounts of resources. However, while these terms for long lasting peace appear to be sound, they have not always been successful , or implemented as such, and in fact have essentially been counterproductive in some cases. Paris's approach has not always and may not always produce long-term sustainable peace with functioning institutions of democracy and the economy, because of dilemmas inherent in the approach. Though it is observed that most stable and peaceful states are democracies with productive economies, implementing the IBL strategy requires fine tuning and specific adjustments for every post-civil war state on a case by case basis.

Several dilemmas arise in Paris's approach as observed in peace building operations in different country cases. I will outline two that subsequently lead to further sub dilemmas that necessitate accountability. The first is that there are a great deal of differences across the peace building missions in that they take place in very different environments. Each country in which peace building operations are...

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... to support its implementation however, such an approach may essentially be counterproductive if implemented in a uniform procedural, short-term manner for every country case. The IBL program must proceed with the needed understanding of post-conflict needs and goals of a country's people, the cooperation and incorporation of a country's own initiatives, and a carefully personalized long-term democratic and market liberalization infrastructure for each country case. If every one of these conditions is not fulfilled than the IBL may certainly not produce long-term sustainable peace with functioning institutions of democracy and the economy because it is these very conditions that are the dilemmas inherent in the approach.

Works Cited

Paris, Roland. 2004. At War's End : Building Peace After Civil Conflict. Cambridge, U.K. ; New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.
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