SOAS University of London

Centre on Conflict, Rights and Justice

Costly Democracy. Why peacebuilding rarely leads to democracy.

Prof Christoph Zurcher

Date: 8 March 2013Time: 5:00 PM

Finishes: 8 March 2013Time: 9:00 PM

Venue: Brunei Gallery Room: B102

Type of Event: Seminar

Peacebuilding is an interactive process that involves collaboration between peacebuilders and the victorious elites of a postwar society. While one of the most prominent assumptions of the peacebuilding literature asserts that the interests of domestic elites and peacebuilders coincide, this book contends that they rarely align.  Costly Democracy makes the case that the preferences of domestic elites are greatly shaped by the costs they incur in adopting democracy, as well as the leverage that peacebuilders wield to increase the costs of non-adoption. As cases from Afghanistan, Bosnia, Kosovo, Timor, Rwanda, Namibia, Mozambique, and Tajikistan show, domestic elites in postwar societies may desire the resources—both material and symbolic—that peacebuilders can bring, but they are less eager to adopt democracy because they believe democratic reforms may endanger some or all of their substantive interests. Costly Democracy offers comparative analyses of recent cases of peacebuilding to deepen understanding of postwar democratization and better explain why peacebuilding missions often bring peace, but seldom democracy, to war-torn countries.

Christoph Zürcher is  professor at the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Ottawa. Previous teaching and research appointments include the University of Konstanz, Germany, the institut d’études politiques d’Aix-en-Provence, Stanford University, and Freie Univerdsität  Berlin.  His research and teaching interests include conflict research, state-building and intervention, international governance and development. His regional focus is on the Former Soviet Union especially on Russia, the Caucasus, and Central Asia including Afghanistan.  He is the author of "Costly Democracy. Peacebuilding and Democratization after War (Stanford, Stanford UP 2013) and “The Post-Soviet Wars: Rebellion, Ethnic Conflict and Nationhood in the Post-Soviet Era (New York: University Press, 2007. He is the editor of “Potentials of Disorder. Explaining Violence in the Caucasus and in the Former Yugoslavia” (Manchester UP, 2003)


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