Solutions to Violent Conflict

Civil-Military Interaction in Peacebuilding

In Civil-military relations on March 24, 2014 at 9:15 am

Lisa Schirch and David Cortright

In recent decades, international peacekeeping missions have become more robust and multi-dimensional, involving diverse civilian and military actors. In many cases, civilian peacebuilding and development actors are on the ground throughout the conflict, sharing operational environments with military forces that increasingly engage in civilian activities.

In these complex environments, civil society and military actors often have competing or conflicting goals and approaches — or they may miss opportunities for coordinated action. The blurring of roles and responsibilities between civilian and military actors in conflict and post-conflict settings is an important dimension of peacebuilding and development policy.


Managing the sensitive relationship among civil society actors and military forces is especially important for security system reform and for enhancing military accountability to civilian government. Problems arise when military units take on traditionally civilian development missions, such as the Provincial Reconstruction Teams in Iraq and Afghanistan, or when security forces view humanitarian missions as a way of gathering military intelligence. The challenges of civil-military interaction also surface during disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration in the wake of armed conflict.

Civil Society Engagement in the ‘New Deal’

In Civil society, Peacebuilding on March 24, 2014 at 9:15 am

The Rangers of Virunga National Park

Rachel Fairhurst and Kristen Wall

Civil society groups can play an important role in peacebuilding. One example is the New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States, an innovative approach to international development policy.

The New Deal is led by self-identified “fragile states” — including Afghanistan, Burundi, Central African Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Timor Leste, and Togo, among others — in partnership with international donors. It acknowledges the need for peacebuilding and statebuilding as a foundation for successful development in the world’s poorest and most conflict-affected countries. It also recognizes civil society as a key partner in transitioning states out of fragility.

Regional Organizations in Peacebuilding Partnerships

In Civil society, Peacebuilding on March 24, 2014 at 9:15 am

Sarah Smiles Persinger

Regional Intergovernmental Organizations (RIGOs) — such as the European Union, Arab League, Organization of American States, and similar organizations — are playing a growing role in peace and security affairs. The complexity of global security threats and the rise of intra-state conflicts that frequently spill across borders have prompted a regional approach to security management.

The United Nations Security Council has supported the devolution of some security responsibilities to regional organizations. States are expected to submit disputes to regional organizations as well as to international institutions. These trends have prompted both governmental bodies and civil society organizations to adopt regional approaches to conflict prevention and peacebuilding.

The number of civil society organizations working on preventative diplomacy and peacebuilding more broadly has grown exponentially in recent decades. As norms around conflict prevention have widened to include human security and gender perspectives, these organizations have assumed a more prominent role in peace and security. Many civil society efforts have adopted a regional approach, and some are attempting to work in partnership with regional organizations.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 50 other followers