A Critique of the Application of Liberal Peace Theory in Post-Conflict Peacebuilding: Cases From African Experience

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Yared Debebe


Michael Doyle (1983) pioneers contemporary liberal peace theory. He argued that no liberal democracy has ever gone to war with another liberal democracy. After nearly a decade, the victorious Western camp undisputedly declared the ontological and epistemological premises of liberal peace as a universalizing
rationality of pacific order and a panacea for post-conflict societies. In the following years, peacebuilding interventions were launched under the auspice of the UN and other agencies in war torn countries with excessive liberal enthusiasm. However, conflicts in Africa have proved unwaveringly resistant to Western attempts to easily institute liberal peace. As Collier et al. (2003) noted, almost half of all post-conflict states relapsed to armed violence within the first decade of relative peace. This has generated a considerable debate and disagreement in the realm of scholarship and policy (Newman, Paris & Richmond, 2009). Responding to this debate, in this paper, I draw on data from World Bank, United Nations Development Program, Freedom House, and pertinent empirical research works to critically appraise the application of liberal peace theory in the context of post-conflict societies in Africa. It was found out that liberal  peacebuilding instigated more damages to the ill-equipped post-conflict states. In conclusion, liberal peace is “acultural” and insensitive towards recipient of the peacebuilding and ultimately aimed at creating chronically dependent states.

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