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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The challenges of constructing legitimacy in peacebuilding Higashi, Daisaku


Observing challenges in Afghanistan, Iraq, Sudan, Sierra Leone, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti, Kosovo, East Timor, and Libya, to name a few, there is no doubt that peacebuilding—international efforts to create lasting peace in post-conflict states — is a critical issue in world politics. It appears to be a widely shared understanding among both scholars and policymakers that it is imperative for the peacebuilders—both international and domestic authorities in charge of creating peace—to obtain legitimacy in reconstructing war-torn states. Surprisingly, however, concrete methods or policies to construct legitimacy in “host states” have not been fully examined by either IR theorists or practitioners. The objective of this dissertation is to develop an understanding of the mechanism of constructing or eroding the legitimacy of newly created domestic governments in the specific context of peacebuilding. The existing accounts basically contend that constructing legitimate governments in post-conflict states largely depends on the level of force and level of resource distribution (or “guns and money”). On the contrary, my argument emphasizes that in addition to those two factors, other factors, such as inclusive governments reconciling with political adversaries and the substantial role of international organizations as a credible third party to establish the fairness and neutrality of the political process, are very critical in building the legitimacy of the domestic governments in the long run. In order to assess this argument, the dissertation conducts detailed process tracing to assess peacebuilding in Afghanistan as a primary case, demonstrating how the legitimacy of the Afghan government has been eroded. The dissertation also assesses the cases of Iraq, Sierra Leone and Timor-Leste (East Timor) in more concise fashion. All four cases support my argument about the requirements for an inclusive political process in peacebuilding as well as the important role of the UN which has often been dismissed by its critics. The research suggests important policy implications for peacebuilding and contributes to generating a theory that can be assessed by future studies.

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