Photo: Albert Gonzalez Farran / UNAMID

Workshop on 'Micro-Level Perspectives on Peace'

How can peace best be promoted following civil war? The transition from violent internal conflict to peace arguably is one of the most difficult challenges a society can face. Although a small number of countries has managed to prevent renewed civil war, others are often caught in ‘conflict traps’. Of those countries that have managed to prevent a relapse into full-scale war, many are characterized by high violent crime rates, illicit economies, corruption, violent protests, or simmering non-state conflicts between armed militias in the periphery, rendering the ‘quality’ of the post-conflict peace poor, at best.

Caroline Hartzell, Felix Haass, and I will explore the quality of post-war peace in a series of workshops. The first of these workshops will take place in September at the University of Birmingham.

We have been lucky to secure the participation of a number of renowned scholars working on post-conflict peace as, for example, Kristin Bakke, Sabine Carey, Jessica Maves Braithwaite, Niheer Dasandi, Mansoob Murshed, Milli Lake, and Alex Hartman.

At the core of our workshops is the notion that it is necessary to adopt a micro-level perspective on post-conflict peace. While macro-level analyses have greatly contributed to our understanding of post-conflict peacebuilding, a macro-only approach entails serious shortcomings. These include a potential mismatch between theoretical mechanisms and empirical data, and a failure to take into account the attitudes of citizens towards peace, problems that may mean only superficially relevant knowledge is produced for practitioners.

Addressing these issue, we take up the idea of the “micro-level” as a conceptual and empirical distinction that breaks up the territorial state or dyads as levels of analysis in favor of lower-level units of analysis, such as individuals, sub-groups, or geographical regions. We argue that it is particularly worthwhile to study micro-level perspectives on peace in four interconnected areas that are particularly relevant in conflict-affected states: security, political access, rule of law, and economic development.