Public Service Provision as Peacebuilding: How Do Autonomous Efforts Compare to Internationally Aided Interventions?
Principal investigators: Naazneen Barma, Naval Postgraduate School; Naomi Levy, Santa Clara University; and Jessica Piombo, Naval Postgraduate School
Years of Award: 2013-2016
Supporting Service Agency: Office of Naval Research
Statebuilding and peacebuilding are often treated synonymously but, in reality, the two endeavors are distinct processes with different logics that may reinforce or contradict each other. Part of the reason why major interventions in post-conflict countries have yielded disappointing results is that their design is predicated on often untested assumptions about how the foundations for sustainable peace are best achieved—and how the different processes for attempting to do so are truly inter-related. Our project interrogates the conventional wisdom that creating peace in post-conflict states must involve building state capacity. Theoretically, we address two inter-related questions: does external engagement to assist post-conflict recovery actually help to build state capacity; and does such an approach to statebuilding actually contribute to the attainment of sustainable peace? Empirically, we disentangle the distinct endeavors of statebuilding and peacebuilding by examining the impact of aid dynamics on the outcomes of state coherence and depth of peace through the lens of public service provision. The project rests on a mixed-method research design that combines fieldwork-based qualitative research on aid dynamics in service delivery in the education and health sectors in three post-conflict developing countries—Cambodia, Laos, and Uganda—with supplementary national and cross-national quantitative analysis to illustrate the argument’s broader scope. Service delivery is a critical arena for this investigation, because it represents one of the most fundamental roles of the state and a crucial interface between the state and society in the complicated journey toward post-conflict stability. This theoretically informed, finely grained empirical investigation has important implications for the design of U.S.-led and other international statebuilding and peacebuilding efforts.
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