Summary of "Postconflict Development: Meeting New Challenges"

Summary of

Postconflict Development: Meeting New Challenges

By Gerd Junne and Willemijn Verkoren, eds.

Summary written by Eric Brahm, Conflict Research Consortium

Citation: Postconflict Development: Meeting New Challenges. Gerd Junne and Willemijn Verkoren, eds. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2004.

This volume is concerned with development in situations after warfare has ended. This does not mean conflict is over for, as Junne and Verkoren describe, "[c]onflicts become more or less violent, more or less manifest or latent, but they seldom stop altogether." (1) Development in these tense situations can be a challenge. Citing the high percentage of concluded civil wars that reignite, they argue that a crucial factor in minimizing a return to war is the extent to which economic and social development has succeeded in the intervening period and whether there is a fair distribution of resources amongst various groups. The task of development gives former warring factions a common task and goal to work toward and directs attention to the future rather than the past.

Development in this context can also be dangerous, they assert, for if war ended in part due to the exhaustion of resources, development could finance a renewed arms buildup. On the whole, however, they argue that while economic development is not a panacea, "a lack of development can be a guarantee for the resumption of violence." (2) They discuss why these situations often garner little attention from scholars and practitioners alike.

With some exceptions, chapters in this book are arranged thematically rather than by case studies.

  • Dirk Salomon's addresses the challenge of successful disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR). As an important precursor to post-conflict development, Salomons outlines the elements of a successful process and how the international community can help realize this goal.
  • Jose Luis Herrero discusses the (re)building of state institutions. He discusses some of the pitfalls of rapid introduction of democracy, or at least certain types, in these conditions.
  • In her chapter, Tanja Hohe builds on this theme by addressing potential problems resulting from decentralization and devolution, which has become a staple prescription for improving good governance.
  • Mark Plunkett argues for the importance of (re)establishing the rule of law prior to constructing a constitution or any other effort at state creation. It can be achieved through a combination of what he calls an enforcement model and a negotiated model.
  • Although (re)building infrastructure would seem to be an unmitigated good in post-conflict development, Richard H. Brown cautions that infrastructure development can as easily exacerbate divides as it can bring groups together. He examines what factors contribute to increasing the likelihood of the latter result.
  • Transforming the media from stoking the flames of conflict to serving a communication role is the subject of Ross Howard's contribution. He discusses the need not only to build conventional journalism, but also to utilize the media as a tool for conflict resolution.
  • Wondem Asres Degu addresses the under-examined importance of education. Education is important to development in a number of ways from inclusive or exclusive curriculum and language policies to whether the system is effectively training a workforce.
  • Vanessa van Schoor discusses how to best deal with a health crisis where the healthcare system is likely to suffer from damaged facilities, a lack of trained staff, and a lack of resources.
  • Martijn Bijlsma makes the case for incorporating environmental concerns into any post-conflict development policy. The post-conflict period can be an ideal time to tackle tricky environmental problems that may have been exacerbated by the conflict and, if unaddressed, could be a source of future tension.
  • Conflict often creates economic opportunity through foreign aid, smuggling, and criminal activity. As Bertine Kamphuis discusses, actors come to rely on these sources of economic gain so any development scheme must address the need to identify alternative economic opportunities.
  • Addison, Chowdhury, and Murshed examine the complicated fiscal issues facing post-conflict states. The argue that, while not at the cost of being financially sound decisions, policy should target a broad-based recovery to spread the benefits as widely as possible.
  • With respect to international donor assistance, Rex Brynen focuses on pledging gaps and disbursement delays, aid coordination, host-country ownership, and the political usage of aid in Palestine and Afghanistan.


Although each of the prior chapters makes use of extensive examples, the volume also contains three more detailed case studies on El Salvador, Mozambique, and Cambodia.

  • Chris van der Borgh uses the example of El Salvador to explore the choices involved when the international community decides what actors to work with in promoting local capacity building.
  • Mozambique has been widely hailed as a success story of post-conflict development. In his contribution, Joseph Hanlon argues that this triumphalism has overlooked stark inequalities and the development of "democratic minimalism."
  • Finally, in Cambodia, Willemijn Verkoren sees an example of how to do almost everything wrong. Development strategies have failed to address many of the causes of the conflict. In fact, policies have proven to strengthen the causes of conflict.