Building Sustainable Peace Understanding the Linkages between Social, Political, and Ecological Processes in Post-War Countries
Abstract: Post-war countries are among the most difficult policy arenas for international and domestic actors. The challenge is not only to stop violence and prevent violence from rekindling, but moreover to help countries reset their internal relations on a peaceful path. The indirect, long-term effects of wars further exaggerate this challenge. Many of these relate to political and social aspects of post-war countries. Lasting impressions of human rights abuses committed during wars continue to shape the relations among members of societies for decades to come. Both, socio-economic impacts and political impacts challenge the stability of post-war countries for many years. The challenges to public health have been found to be especially severe and affect disproportionately the civilian population of post-war countries. Environmental and climate change exposes post-war populations further to new risks, exaggerating the human costs of war long after active combat has ceased.These challenges are not new. The problem, however, is that in practice all these elements are simultaneously happening in today’s peacebuilding interventions. Yet, practitioners as well as researchers remain settled in a silo mentality, focusing only on one aspect at a time. As such they are unaware of the unintended consequences that their focus has on other important processes. The four essays that lie at the heart of this dissertation provide new insight into the linkages between the social, political and ecological processes in post-war societies and how the interactions of different groups of actors are shaping the prospects for peace.The argument drawn out in this dissertation is that to build peace we need to acknowledge and understand this long-term interplay of social, political, and ecological processes in post-war countries. It will be crucial to understand the potential and dynamics of natural resources and environmental issues in this context. As the essays in this dissertation show, the interactions of these processes divisively shape the post-war landscape. It is therefore essential to build a peace that is ecologically sensitive, while equally socially and politically relevant and desirable. I call this sustainable peace.
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