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Post-Conflict Reconstruction: Key Issues in Governance

G Glentworth †(2002)
25 pages (77KB)

This paper presents material on post-conflict reconstruction, with a focus on key legacies of conflict, government priorities in post-conflict situations and requirements in effective external aid support. Content is drawn from experience in Sierra Leone with provision of an in-depth case study, although, the paper is described by the author as a work in progress.

For analysis to be useful to post-conflict reconstruction, it has to focus on effects of conflict that are comprehensible by successor governments. It must be recognised that these governments face limitations. Successful post-conflict reconstruction necessitates change in donor behaviour and in relationships with national counterparts. Relations between donors and national governments need to keep domestic capacity building as a prominent central objective. The paper hopes to first provide an agenda for checking against the increasing literature on post-conflict reconstruction to then test against practical experience in post-conflict countries outside of Sierra Leone.

Government action aims to achieve a sufficient balance in political power that conflict legacies are diffused and at the least do not break out into physical conflict again. Political legitimacy must be re-established so that as a minimum, there is acceptance by the majority of the population. Any elements of government that may have survived can be resurrected, experienced personnel can be encouraged and utilised. More research is needed to separate the few key priorities that must be achieved first with other priorities being achieved later on, when capacity exists.In studying Sierra Leone:

  • The situation provided an extensive example of the process of post-conflict reconstruction, in particular the re-establishment of governance.
  • External assistance was found to be crucial especially in laying foundations for effective national security.
  • It was shown that large-scale international commitments to the disarmament and demobilisation process and to reconstruction have created a mechanism for demobilising fighters and strengthened prospects for development.

Key factors emerged in considering the role of donor partners and successfully guiding their contribution in post-conflict reconstruction.

  • To be effective, donor assistance needs to be flexible and sufficiently extensive to simultaneously continue emergency aid, contribute to sustaining peace and security and respond to unforeseen crises.
  • The choice must be made between beginning reform immediately or first restoring basic capacity.
  • Donor partners must resist controlling decision making which may further damage fragile national governments.
  • Decision making and implementation capacity must be rebuilt within public institutions as a central objective of post-conflict governance.
  • Political constituencies should be managed on both the donor and national government sides.
  • Conventional restrictions set by aid agencies on undertaking what can be done, must rather address what needs to be done.

Source: Glentworth, G., 2002,?íPost-Conflict Reconstruction: Key Issues in Governance: A Preliminary Discussion Paperí.

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