Confronting the Contradictions of Postwar Peace Operations

Edited by Roland Paris and Timothy D. Sisk
Routledge Security and Governance Series, 2009


Since the end of the Cold War, more than 20 major peace operations have been deployed to countries emerging from internal conflicts. This book argues that international efforts to construct effective, legitimate governmental structures in these countries are necessary but fraught with contradictions and vexing dilemmas. Drawing on the latest scholarly research on postwar peace operations, the volume:

  • addresses cutting-edge issues of statebuilding including coordination, local ownership, security, elections, constitution making, and delivery of development aid;
  • features contributions by leading and up-and-coming scholars;
  • provides empirical case studies including Afghanistan, Cambodia, Croatia, Kosovo, Liberia, Sierra Leone, South Africa, and others; and
  • presents policy-relevant findings of use to students and policymakers alike.

The Dilemmas of Statebuilding will be vital reading for students and scholars of international relations and political science. Bringing new insights to security studies, international development, and peace and conflict research, it will also interest a range of policy makers.


"Roland Paris and Timothy Sisk have compiled the essential guide to understanding the inherent contradictions that lie at the heart of the statebuilding enterprise. Drawing on a range of contemporary cases the volume’s contributors expertly dissect the dilemmas raised by the challenges of coordination, security, political economy, institutional design, and autonomy. Students, analysts or practitioners looking to reflect on the process of statebuilding will find no better place to start their enquiry."

- Paul D. Williams, Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University

"Statebuilding is a primary challenge for the international relations, defence and development communities in our time. Peacebuilding turns out to be meaningless without state capacity, so often shattered utterly during civil (generally also regional) wars. This valuable volume draws on nearly twenty years of experience with peacebuilding during the post-Cold War era, through contributions of eminent scholars expert in this area and some exciting newer entrants into the field, in order to emphasize convincingly the central role of the state in supporting recovery from national collapse."

- David M. Malone, President, International Development Research Centre, Ottawa, Canada

"This is an extremely timely study that is bound to stimulate considerable interest among academics and practitioners alike."

- Necla Tschirgi, Peacebuilding Support Office, United Nations, New York (full review)


Introduction. Roland Paris and Timothy D. Sisk, "Understanding the Contradictions of Postwar Statebuilding"
1. Michael Barnett and Christoph Zuercher, "The Peacebuilder's Contract: How External Statebuilding Reinforces Weak Statehood"
2. Roland Paris, "Understanding the 'Coordination Problem' in Postwar Statebuilding"
3. David Edelstein, "Foreign Militaries, Sustainable Institutions, and Postwar Statebuilding"
4. Deborah Avant, "Making Peacemakers out of Spoilers: International Organizations, Private Military Training, and Statebuilding After War"
5. Cristopher Cramer, "Trajectories of Accumulation through War and Peace"
6. David Roberts, "The Superficiality of Statebuilding in Cambodia: Patronage and Clientelism as Enduring Forms of Politics"
7. Kirsti Samuels, "Constitutional Choices and Statebuilding in Postconflict Countries"
8. Timothy D. Sisk, "Pathways of the Political: Electoral Processes after Civil War"
9. Astri Suhrke, "The Dangers of a Tight Embrace: Externally Assisted Statebuilding in Afghanistan"
10. Jens Narten, "Dilemmas of Promoting Local Ownership: The Case of Postwar Kosovo"
11. Miles Kahler, "Statebuilding After Afghanistan and Iraq"
12. Roland Paris and Timothy D. Sisk, "Confronting the Contradictions"


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