Project

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Bridging the Gap: Examining the Local Dimensions of International Peacebuilding in the DR Congo

English title Bridging the Gap: Examining the Local Dimensions of International Peacebuilding in the DR Congo
Applicant Hellmüller Sara
Number 144110
Funding scheme Fellowships for prospective researchers
Research institution
Centre Universitaire de Bunia Faculté des Sciences Politiques
Swiss Peace Foundation - swisspeace
Institution of higher education Institution abroad - IACH
Main discipline Political science
Start/End 01.08.2012 - 31.07.2013
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Keywords (5)

Local Peace Initiatives; Reconciliation; Democratic Republic of Congo; Local Ownership; Peacebuilding

Lay Summary (English)

Lead
Lay summary

The research project treats the significance, the implications and the potential of what is called the “local dimension” in international peacebuilding programs. Theoretically, it is located within the various strands of critical debates about peacebuilding ranging from the critiques of “liberal peacebuilding” to the supporters of communitarian approaches. Politically, it follows the post-1992 Agenda for Peace debates about the potential and limitations of international peacebuilding. Methodologically, it aims at confronting macro-level policy reasoning with field-based data gathered in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

“Local ownership” has become a frequently used term both in research and in policy. It refers to the extent to which domestic actors control the design and the implementation of political processes, which includes peacebuilding processes. While the connotation of the term is generally positive, its precise meaning and its implications in practice remain largely under-defined and under-researched. The dissertation is structured around three propositions, namely (1) that the sustainability of peace largely depends upon the way in which local actors and institutions are brought into peacebuilding initiatives, (2) that understanding the interactions between local and international actors as well as promoting a well designed and structured relationship between them increases the effectiveness of peacebuilding programs, and (3) that a proper understanding of the different symbolic and cultural perspectives of peacebuilding actors facilitates the coordination of efforts to effectively build peace.

The propositions are worked through in the framework of a PhD-Thesis looking at the implications of the absence or integration of local perspectives in reconciliation programs on the relations between antagonistic communities in a post-conflict society (the DRC). The general assumption of the study is that an effective cooperation between international and local actors enhances the probability that peacebuilding will be successful in the long run, i.e. that the respective populations will not return to organized violence.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 21.02.2013

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Publications

Publication
A story of mutual adaptation? The interaction between local and international peacebuilding actors in Ituri
Hellmüller Sara (2014), A story of mutual adaptation? The interaction between local and international peacebuilding actors in Ituri, in Peacebuilding, 2(2), 188-201.
International and Local Actors in Peacebuilding: Why Don’t They Cooperate?
Hellmüller Sara (2014), International and Local Actors in Peacebuilding: Why Don’t They Cooperate?, swisspeace, Bern.
Is Local Beautiful? Peacebuilding between International Interventions and Local-ly Led Initiatives
Hellmüller Sara, Santschi Martina (ed.) (2014), Is Local Beautiful? Peacebuilding between International Interventions and Local-ly Led Initiatives, Srpinger, Cham.
La paix en République Démocratique du Congo : quelles perspectives locales ?
Hellmüller Sara (2014), La paix en République Démocratique du Congo : quelles perspectives locales ?, in Novosseloff Alexandra (ed.), Centre Thucydide, Université Panthéon-Assas, Paris, 657-671.
République démocratique du Congo. Une lueur d’espoir ?
Hellmüller Sara (2014), République démocratique du Congo. Une lueur d’espoir ?, in Diplomatie, 69, 8-12.
The Power of Perceptions: Localizing International Peacebuilding Approaches
Hellmüller Sara (2013), The Power of Perceptions: Localizing International Peacebuilding Approaches, in International Peacekeeping, 20(2), 219-232.
Is Local Beautiful? Peacebuilding between International Interventions and Locally Led Initiatives
Hellmüller Sara, Santschi Martina (ed.), Is Local Beautiful? Peacebuilding between International Interventions and Locally Led Initiatives, Springer, Cham.
Owners or partners? – A critical analysis of the principle of local ownership
Hellmüller Sara, Owners or partners? – A critical analysis of the principle of local ownership, in Hellmüller Sara, Santschi Martina (ed.), Springer, Cham.
Review of Book "Congo" by Thomas Turner
Hellmüller Sara, Review of Book "Congo" by Thomas Turner, in Political Quarterly.

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies / Columbia University United States of America (North America)
- Research Infrastructure
Université de Bunia Congo Democratic Republic (formerly Zaire) (Africa)
- Research Infrastructure

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
swisspeace anniversary conference Talk given at a conference A Just Peace? Insights from DR Congo 10.09.2015 University of Basel, Switzerland Hellmüller Sara;
ECPR General Conference Talk given at a conference Panel chair on "Hybrid (post-)conflict configurations" 04.09.2013 Bordeaux University, France Hellmüller Sara;
Bridging the Gap - local and international peacebuilding actors in DR Congo Individual talk Bridging the Gap 08.04.2013 New York, United States of America Hellmüller Sara;
Is Local Beautiful? Peacebuilding between International Intervention and Locally-Led Initiatives Talk given at a conference Moderation of Panel 20.11.2012 Bern, Switzerland Hellmüller Sara;
AEGIS Conference on Trust and Reconcilation in Post-Conflict Societies Talk given at a conference We have surprised the world - perceptions of reconciliation initiatives in Ituri (DR Cong) 04.10.2012 Basel, Switzerland Hellmüller Sara;
International Conference on Research and Development Talk given at a conference Bridging the gap: how perceptions influence the cooperation between local and international peacebuilding actors in DR Congo 22.08.2012 Bern, Switzerland Hellmüller Sara;


Knowledge transfer events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Date Place Persons involved
swisspeace colloquium on theoretical frameworks Talk 28.11.2012 Bern, Switzerland Hellmüller Sara;


Self-organised

Title Date Place
swisspeace colloquium on research gaps 04.06.2013 Bern, Switzerland

Communication with the public

Communication Title Media Place Year
Talks/events/exhibitions Peacebuilding in DR Congo International 2013

Abstract

The research project treats the significance, the implications and the potential of what is called the “local dimension” in international peacebuilding programs. Theoretically, it is located within the various strands of critical debates about peacebuilding ranging from the critiques of “liberal peacebuilding” to the supporters of communitarian approaches. Politically, it follows the post-1992 Agenda for Peace debates about the potential and limitations of international peacebuilding. Methodologically, it aims at confronting macro-level policy reasoning with field-based data gathered in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). “Local ownership” has become a frequently used term both in research and in policy. It refers to the extent to which domestic actors control the design and the implementation of political processes, which includes peacebuilding processes. While the connotation of the term is generally positive, its precise meaning and its implications in practice remain largely under-defined and under-researched. The dissertation is structured around three propositions, namely (1) that the sustainability of peace largely depends upon the way in which local actors and institutions are brought into peacebuilding initiatives, (2) that understanding the interactions between local and international actors as well as promoting a well designed and structured relationship between them increases the effectiveness of peacebuilding programs, and (3) that a proper understanding of the different symbolic and cultural perspectives of peacebuilding actors facilitates the coordination of efforts to effectively build peace. The propositions are worked through in the framework of a PhD-Thesis looking at the implications of the absence or integration of local perspectives in reconciliation programs on the relations between antagonistic communities in a post-conflict society (the DRC). The general assumption of the study is that an effective cooperation between international and local actors enhances the probability that peacebuilding will be successful in the long run, i.e. that the respective populations will not return to organized violence.The project extends over a period of three years. The current proposal concerns an extended field visit in the DRC (1 year, with 2 months interruption for data analysis / research strategy assessment in Switzerland), during which the researcher will be affiliated with the University of Bunia, Ituri (Eastern DRC). She is confident to cope with the scientific and technical challenges linked to the project due to the her considerable field work experience, both in her field research contexts and with regards to peacebuilding issues in general.
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