War that Produces Peace? Military Victory and Sustainable Peacebuilding

Dr. Giulia Piccolino
2014 - 2016
Alexander von Humboldt Foundation



Research Questions
The central research question is: "What distinctive impact, with respect to negotiated settlements, does military victory have on the reconstruction and peacebuilding process in post-conflict countries?"

Contribution to International Research
The project aims at contributing to the opening of a new field of inquiry within the literature on post-conflict peacebuilding, which has up to now concentrated overwhelmingly on post-settlement peace. In addition, a deep discussion of the vision, motives, strategy of national elites of post-conflict countries and their role in "autonomous recovery" has been lacking until recently, with the exception of a few recent works. The present research project draws inspiration from this seminal literature and from the growing interest in "illiberal peacebuilding". It also tries to reconnect the debate on local elite-driven peacebuilding with the one on the relationship between civil war outcomes and peace sustainability.

Research Design and Methods
The research addresses four cases of wars which ended in military victories: three cases examined through desk research (Rwanda, Sri Lanka and Angola) and a fourth in-depth case involving extensive fieldwork (Cote d’Ivoire). The case studies have be chosen among post-Cold War conflicts and a balance has been struck in order to have two cases of incumbent victory and two cases of opposition forces’ victory. The aim of the desk review part of the research is to look at common patterns and specificities of post-victory reconstruction. Field research will help shedding light on casual mechanisms and will allow for a more nuanced appraisal of the consequences of post-victory choices on peacebuilding.

Preliminary Results
Although the literature on conflict termination assumes that the achievement of peace after victory is a simple and quasi-automatic process with respect to the problem of negotiating a settlement, in reality post-victory countries experience distinctive peacebuilding challenges. Victors have to maintain cohesion among the winning coalition; they have to find a strategy to deal with the vanquished constituencies, which might not recognize their legitimacy. In the case of insurgent victory, developing the capacity to rule a country is also a major issue.

Research Programme