“Dirty peace?” The political economy of peacebuilding

Release date: 2018-04

On 19 October 2017, BICC (Bonn International Center for Conversion) hosted its annual International Academic Conference entitled “‘Dirty Peace?’ The Political Economy of Peacebuilding” in Bonn. BICC Knowledge Note 1\2018, edited by Elvan Isikozlu and Susanne Heinke documents the conference proceedings.

The conference brought together over 100 academics and practitioners from around the world to exchange concepts, empirical observations and lessons learned on the prerequisites, patterns and consequences of peace negotiations. The conference focussed on the micro-politics of peacebuilding and how the ‘business’ of peacebuilding that donors, practitioners and researchers engage in have an effect on local incentives or disincentives for keeping the peace. Participants at the conference called for more awareness of one’s own role in the complex process of peacebuilding and the ethical challenges these processes present.

In her welcome address, Beate Wieland, Head of Department for Research at the Ministry of Culture and Science of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, underlined the importance of ensuring a lasting peace to prevent violent conflict in the future. She opined that a lasting peace comes from improving peoples’ living conditions in conflict regions.

The first panel examined some of the conditions for successful mediation in peacebuilding negotiations, while the second panel focussed on the consequences inclusivity or exclusivity have on the success of these negotiations. The third panel discussed lessons learned from practical experience and engagement in negotiations and peacebuilding processes in Afghanistan and South Sudan. A concluding roundtable highlighted several takeaways from the conference, including the added value of a political economy perspective, the critical need for capacity and local leadership of peacebuilding initiatives and the need to unpack the various agendas and interests that, left unexamined, make the peace process seem ‘dirty’ as opposed to what it really is: complex.

The conference was generously funded by the Foundation for International Dialogue of the Savings Bank in Bonn and the US Consulate General in Düsseldorf.