Workshop on ‘Former armed groups and the politics of state-building after war’

The first Politics After War workshop ‘Former armed groups and the politics of state-building after war’ was held at Emmanuel College, Cambridge on 9 January 2017. The workshop was funded by the Philomathia Foundation and the Centre for Governance and Human Rights (CGHR).

The workshop aimed to begin a conversation about former armed movements and the practices of statebuilding, and was shaped around the central question: Given that many armed groups were formed on the basis of projecting radical ideas about state transformation, how do their ideological and ideational foundations influence the ways in which they continue to govern or engage in politics after conflict? In other words, how do they practice politics in peace times? 

More specifically, we considered the following three questions:

  • Why ideas of state transformation were or were not implemented after conflict by former armed group leaders
  • What is the relevance of ideology for practices of state-building and governance after conflict?
  • How do conflict endings (for instance military victory vs negotiated settlements) influence state building practices and possibilities?

Programme and Papers

Session: Post-conflict state-building: Legacies of rebel governance 

Chair: Christopher Clapham, Centre of African Studies, University of Cambridge 

  • From Political Inclusion to Inclusive Politics? Comparative assessment of armed groups’ democratic performance as emerging state elites following negotiated transitions, Veronique Dudouet, Berghof Foundation
  • Rebel party origins and good governance?, John Ishiyama, Department of Political Science, University of North Texas (co-authored with Michael Christopher Marshall, Miami University of Ohio)
  • Rebel Governance, De Facto States and Post-War Stability, Nina Caspersen, Department of Politics, University of York
  • Avoiding the post-liberation trap?  Somaliland in comparative perspective, Sara Dorman, Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Edinburgh

Session: Politics of state-building after war: Adapting to democracy 

Chair: Pieter van Houten, POLIS, University of Cambridge

  • Electoral politics and statebuilding: do parties make the difference?, Carrie Manning, Department of Political Science, Georgia State University
  • Peace politics and the road ahead: Ideological moderation and political reframing by former secessionist movements, Gyda M. Sindre, POLIS, University of Cambridge
  • Political party quotas as a facilitator of gendered parliamentary representation: evidence from Namibia, Ian Cooper, POLIS, University of Cambridge
  • Does Local Ownership Improve the Effectiveness of Police Reform in Fragile and Conflict-Affected States?, Andrew Collins, Department of War Studies, King’s College London

Session: No war – no peace: State-building failures and successes 

Chair: Christine Cheng, Department of War Studies, King’s College London 

  • Wartime experiments and ceasefire conventionalism: state-building in the Polisario Front liberation movement, Alice Wilson, Department of Social Anthropology, University of Sussex
  • Armed Groups and the Localization of Politics in Civil Wars: Evidence from Syria, Benedetta Berti, Institute for National Security Studies
  • Militarised Post-Conflict Statebuilding: Explaining South Sudan’s War-to-War Transition, Daniel Christopher Watson, Department of International Relations, University of Sussex
  • The Crisis in Burundi and the Legacies of Rebellion, Ntagahoraho Z. Burihabwa (UN) and Devon Curtis (POLIS, University of Cambridge)

Session: State-building practices: Transformative politics and policies

Chair: Harry Verhoeven, Georgetown University 

  • UNITA’s social engagement in post-war Angola, Justin Pearce, POLIS, University of Cambridge
  • Modifying Revolutionary Democracy: From Ethnic federalism to the Developmental state in Ethiopia, Lovise Aalen, Christian Michelsen’s Institute (CMI)
  • Success and failures of the political reintegration of ex-combatants in Colombia, Sergio Triana, Department of Criminology, University of Cambridge

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