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Achieving security progress in post-conflict contexts

Time (GMT +00) 14:30 17:15

Case study research

Chair: Susan Nicolai, Head of the Development Progress project, ODI

Lisa Denney, Research Fellow, ODI

Craig Valters, Research Officer, ODI

Juana de Catheu, Governance and Security Advisor, Development Results

Panel debate

Chair: Alina Rocha Menocal, Senior Research Fellow, Developmental Leadership Program, University of Birmingham, on secondment from ODI

Oliver Jutersonke, Head of Research, Centre on Conflict, Development and Peacebuilding (CCDP), Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (Geneva)

Mark White, Deputy Head, Joint Secretariat, Conflict, Stability and Security Fund, Foreign & Commonwealth Office

Eka Ikpe, Lecturer and Head of Fellowships, African Leadership Centre - Kings College London International Development Institute

Rob Parker, Director of Policy and Communications, Saferworld




In both Liberia and Timor-Leste significant progress has been made over the last decade in reducing armed conflict and political violence. People’s perceptions of their own safety have improved, with socio-economic development now the main priority in people’s lives. People’s perceptions of the police are also improving, albeit gradually and in the context of ongoing abuses of authority. In both these countries, however, various forms of violence – as well as structural drivers of conflict – remain.

The findings of this research suggest that post-conflict security progress in the short-term is often achieved through an elite political settlement that buys key stakeholders into the peace (including former enemies), at times at the cost of inclusive citizen-orientated politics and policies. However, this can provide crucial stability in the aftermath of conflict, which can be aided both by peacekeeping forces and responses to violence led by local people. While helping to ensure immediate stability, this illiberal approach also contains the seeds to potentially undermine the longer-term change necessary to make security more sustainable.

We need to confront the reality of how security progress has been achieved in post-conflict settings over relatively short-time frames. This raises questions about how prevailing normative views held by the international community on how security should be built (largely according to liberal peacebuilding approaches) are reconciled with the more illiberal reality of how security imperatives actually play out in post-conflict countries. In addition, how can international actors work within this reality to incentivise post-conflict elites to enact inclusive developmental policies that can lead to a sustainable peace? As it stands, international assumptions and practices about post-conflict settings are inadequate for the realities they face.

This event featured presentations on these research findings, drawing on the case studies from Liberia and Timor-Leste. This was followed by a panel debate amongst leading researchers and practitioners discussing how security progress is achieved in post-conflict settings.


Listen to interview with panelist Eka Ikpe on audioBoom

Listen to an interview with panelit Mark White on audioBoom