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Introduction

  • SungYong Lee
Chapter
Part of the Rethinking Peace and Conflict Studies book series (RCS)

Abstract

This opening chapter offers readers an introduction to the main theme: development of local peacebuilding models in Southeast Asia; as well as the key conceptual and analytical framework and the case studies. The core question of this study is “Is it ever possible for authentic local ownership to be developed under the strong influence and advocacy of external intervention?” Moreover, a few subordinate questions are: “Through what strategies do local peacebuilders develop their own models of peacebuilding? How different are they from the liberal models? What are their significance and limitations as locally-owned peacebuildings?” After introducing the questions, this chapter overviews three theoretical discussions that offer the analytical framework for the forthcoming case studies: local ownership, hybrid peace and everyday peace. Through this analysis, it will be highlighted that the development of local models of peacebuilding is understood as a gradual and positive process through which local peacebuilders can challenge external intervention. Moreover, this book will attempt to move beyond a binary conceptualisation of peacebuilding as a process characterised by an external/indigenous dichotomy and instead aims to analyse peacebuilding as a more flexible and dynamic process. Following this, it gives a concise explanation of the analytical foci of this study, highlighting the interaction of local grassroots agencies vis-à-vis external actors. The different meanings of ‘local’ will be briefly touched upon in this context and it will be clarified.

Keywords

Local ownership Hybrid peace Everyday peace 

Local ownership has been a buzzword in international peacebuilding over the past two decades. Since the late 1990s when the limitations of mainstream liberal peacebuilding models became evident, various ways to promote local ownership as an alternative or supplement to the liberal models have been explored in both academic debates and the field practice of peacebuilding. The assumption is that peacebuilding will be more legitimate and sustainable when local people control and/or influence the design and implementation of their own peacebuilding programmes. In field practice, the UN recognised national/local ownership as “the single most important determinant” of effective peacebuilding (UNSG 2002) and acknowledged that no international initiative “imposed from the outside can hope to be successful or sustainable” (UNSG 2004). Major seminal documents of the UN in this period emphasised local ownership as a central feature of its peacebuilding, some of which include No Exit Without Strategy (2001), the Brahimi Report (2000), Responsibility to Protect (2001), In Larger Freedom (2005), and Governance for Peace (2012).

Supporting this new direction, many international organisations and international non-governmental organisations (NGOs) working in the peacebuilding sector have developed and applied various strategies to enable local actors to participate in their own peacebuilding programmes at both national and sub-national levels. Such commitment was reconfirmed in the documents issued in major international conferences of peacebuilding actors, such as the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness (2005), the Accra Agenda for Action (2008), and Busan Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation (2012). By the mid-2000s, the promotion of local ownership emerged as “a key principle of civil conflict management” (Ropers 2000, cited in Reich 2006, 27).

In academic debates, an extensive discourse has developed to explore how local peacebuilding actors develop their own models of post-conflict reconstruction, and examine various dimensions of local ownership from conceptual, theoretical and empirical perspectives. Although detailed arguments vary, these studies by and large rectify the perceived ‘hubris’ of liberal interventions and support context sensitive bottom-up approaches that respect and reflect local/indigenous knowledge (Richmond 2008; Mac Ginty 2008; Smillie 2001; Campbell et al. 2011; Donais 2012; Mac Ginty and Richmond 2013). While rooted in the practice/discourse of international development, the term ‘local turn’ is now one of the central debates in the peacebuilding discourse.

Nevertheless, the contemporary ownership development programmes tend to focus primarily on local capacity building programmes operated by external donor agencies. The local partners for capacity building were selected from the elites who could foster liberal themes. Although these programmes have encouraged more proactive roles for indigenous people, they inevitably contained many paternalistic elements and the real transfer of responsibilities to local structures, politicians and stakeholders has rarely been carried out. Hence, they failed to demonstrate how local actors can develop real ownership under the external actors’ paternalistic advocacy. Pointing out this limitation, studies state that the previous attempt for local ownership had frequently been not much more than lip service (Boege et al. 2009a), more about locals’ ownership based on externals’ ideas (Suhrke 2007), and limited to institutional ownership only while the decision making power still belong to the internationals (Reich 2006, similar views are discussed in Wetterberg et al. 2015; Sommers 2002; Harris 2004; Hasselskog and Schierenbeck 2015; Richmond 2010). Some studies contend that the concept of local ownership itself is being co-opted to meet donors’ demands and justify a continued international presence (Scheye and Peake 2005; Chesterman 2007; Pietz and von Carlowitz 2007).

Between 2012 and 2014, I had a chance to review the local ownership promotion programmes implemented by international agencies (mainly the UN agencies) in nine different countries, and the key findings are in line with the above critiques. The project discovered that the reviewed programmes have adopted innovative and interesting features, and subsequently, the level of local participation in various peacebuilding activities was significantly improved. At the same time, it was obvious that the power disparity in favour of international donors clearly persisted. While most donors studied as part of this project made many efforts to acknowledge the local counterparts’ perspectives and needs, they still assumed that the promotion of local ownership requires the development of local capacity through the advocacy of external supporters as a prerequisite. Hence, our conclusion was that donors still played the role of agenda setters and the role of local peacebuilding actors tended to remain that of ‘customers’ who are selecting one of the options provided by external actors or who give feedback and comments on the ongoing programmes (Lee and Ӧzerdem 2015).

Ideas for Local Ownership in Asian Peacebuilding were developed in this context. Since the end of the Cold War, there has been approximately. For the first ten years, liberal peacebuilding was uncritically implemented. In the following fifteen years, many international peacebuilding programmes were involved with various efforts to address the limitations of such liberal models and to respect and reflect local contexts. However, as of the mid 2010s, the outputs of such efforts were highly limited, and efforts to address the very structural issue failed.

If this is the case, is it ever possible for authentic local ownership to be developed under the strong influence and advocacy of external intervention? Studies have pointed out various issues ranging from perceptual limitations of the donor community to practical challenges in the post-conflict contexts, which should be transformed in order to promote real local ownership (Donais 2012; Thiessen 2013; Shinoda 2015; Mackenzie-Smith 2015). However, if such perceptual and technical issues are addressed, can the power disparity between donors and local peacebuilders be overcome? Moreover, if this is possible, through what strategies do local peacebuilders develop their own models of peacebuilding? How different are they from the liberal models? What are their significance and limitations as locally-owned peacebuildings?

As will be discussed in the following sections, while the importance and necessity of the local turn has been emphasised and explored in the contemporary academic discourse, in-depth studies on these contexts have not extensively been undertaken yet. Many of the empirical studies until today come with sizeable caveats: the recognition of limitations such as co-operation and limited data-sets. Moreover, many of them rely on description of local contexts incorporated in certain peacebuilding programmes and their achievements, assuming that such cultural reflection was indeed a critical factor. Hence, many important questions related to local ownership of peacebuilding, including the central question of this book, still remain barely analysed.

Thus, Local Ownership in Asian Peacebuilding primarily aims to investigate and analyse the empirical evidence observed in Cambodia and Mindanao, which will further develop the ongoing academic debates on local turn. Based on the author’s field studies in both countries, this study examines specifically how local agencies in Cambodia and Mindanao (the Philippines) have developed their own models of peacebuilding under the strong influence of external intervention. It identifies four distinct patterns in the development of local peacebuilders’ ownership: ownership inheritance from external advocates, mobilisation of alternative funding sources, incorporation of local perspectives within conventional models of collaboration, and utilisation of religious/traditional leadership. This book then analyses each pattern, focusing on its operational features, its significance and its limitations as a model of locally-driven peacebuilding.

In addition, this book intends to report up-to-date information on the peacebuilding development in the two Southeast Asian countries. While a wide range of examples from the peace processes in Africa, Europe and Latin America have been recognised and discussed, the contemporary efforts for promoting locally-led peacebuilding models in Asia have attracted significantly less academic attention. Although the post-war reconstruction processes in Cambodia and Timor-Leste were subject to extensive debates in the early phases of their development, studies of recent developments in these countries are much less abundant and generally only examine a couple of particular field programmes. Hence, greater efforts need to be made to combine, compare, and contrast these scattered findings and arguments regarding local ownership promotion in Asia. This book will address this gap by analysing a dozen selected grassroots peacebuilding programmes developed in the two Southeast Asian countries.

Key Concepts and Bedrock Theories

This section will clarify core concepts and theoretical discussions that form the central framework for analysis. In the first part, it will introduce how this volume defines key terms: peacebuilding, local, local peacebuilder, and external agencies. The latter half will offer a concise overview of the conventional debates on three theoretical concepts: local ownership, hybrid peace and everyday peace.

Key Definitions

Firstly, in selecting peacebuilding activities, the meaning of peace in this study is in line with Barash and Webel (2009, 7)’s definition of positive peace: “a social condition in which exploitation is minimized or eliminated and in which there is neither overt violence nor the more subtle phenomenon of underlying structural violence”. Moreover, the term peacebuilding broadly denotes a wide range of institutionalised programs or less formal activities that pursue such positive peace in conflict-affected societies. The peacebuilding agencies usually “frame their campaigns, services and other activities within a peace perspective or advocacy for peace, or at the least undertake peace-related activities and consider themselves peace organis[s]ations” (Coronel-Ferrer 2005, 1). These agencies may be organisations that put peace and peacebuilding in their core identity, or may be the entities whose primary identity is set in other frames but include peace-supporting activities as their core programmes.

The case studies are selected according to the social, historical and political context of Cambodia and Mindanao (the Philippines). As will be discussed in more detail in Chapter  2, while relief and protection, conflict resolution, and social reconciliation are particularly highlighted as major agenda in Mindanao, various types of development are becoming more dominant forms of peacebuilding in Cambodia. Moreover, this study limits the scope of empirical analysis to the more institutionalised and/or visible forms of peacebuilding. Such institutionalised programmes are just a small part of the peacebuilding in a society, which involves a lot more than official project-based activities. This limit is set because institutionalised forms are more suitable in exploring the central question in that they normally emerge through the interaction between external supporters and local peacebuilding actors.

Secondly, to define and identify ‘local’ in peacebuilding is not straightforward. Since the academic debates on local turn were developed, ‘who we mean by local?’ has formed a core conceptual discourse (Mac Ginty 2011). In the previous political or scholarly discourse, ‘local’ was used to denote the actors at different levels of governance or geographical areas, ranging from a sub-continent (e.g. sub-Saharan Africa) to a small village (Lee and Ӧzerdem 2015). Moreover, the same level of governance can consist of various groups of locals who have dissimilar and frequently contradictory interests and ideas.

Out of various locals in a society, which local does this study denote? To offer a universal definition or to integrate the theoretical discussions on this topic is not the objective of this study. Instead, this study pays particular attention to the ‘locals at grassroots levels’. Although there are exceptions, by using the terms ‘local,’ ‘local community’ or ‘community residents,’ it denotes people at fundamental units (e.g., phum or village in Cambodia and barangayi in Mindanao) or targeted specific groups of people (e.g., victims of land distributions in Cambodia or returnees from evacuation in Mindanao). Moreover, main case studies are selected from peacebuilding programmes that enjoy high popularity among the target communities. In other words, while these programmes may not incorporate the priorities of all locals, they are recognised as important and necessary by the majority of locals.

Moreover, this study uses the terms like local peacebuilders, local agencies, or local actors to denote the key promoters of local peacebuilding. These terms denote agencies at grassroots levels (e.g., individuals, non-governmental organisations, community-based organisations, or informal associations) who make deliberate efforts to nurture peaceful coexistence between different social groups and/or to foster sustainable social development. Since the identification of locals and local peacebuilders needs nuanced and extensive discussion, Chapter  2 is allocated to introduce the locals and local peacebuilders in Cambodia and Mindanao, the Philippines and this section will not touch upon these issues.

However, it should be mentioned that local peacebuilders do not necessarily share the same identity with the grassroots population in the target areas of their programmes. In many cases the peacebuilders are local elites in terms of family background, level of education and/or accessibility to resources. Moreover, especially in Mindanao, local peacebuilders may not be people from the areas where their programmes are implemented. Hence, although these peacebuilders make serious efforts to reflect and represent the local communities’ interests and perspectives, this study assumes that they may have their own interests distinct from local communities. In this sense, they tend to play the role of mediator who links local communities with external actors (e.g., especially international aid agencies in this study) rather than function a part of the local communities.

Finally, the terms external supporters, advocates, and interveners denote the peace supporting agencies that have a central leadership role outside of the areas and are usually involved in peacebuilding activities in other areas as well. In many conventional studies, local ownership has been analysed based on the binary categorisation of local vs. international. Hence, external influence was frequently conceptualised as something coming from foreign actors who represent a liberal peacebuilding agenda. Nevertheless, as discussed in recent studies (Belloni 2012; Kappler 2015; Hellmüller 2017), international peacebuilding actors are by no means a monogamous group. Particularly in Mindanao, the peacebuilders who are considered as ‘external’ by local communities frequently move beyond the boundary of foreigners and include, for example, Filipino agencies like humanitarian organisations from northern islands and the ‘Christian’ civil society actors in non-Islamic areas.

Moreover, the areas of contention between local and external actors are not limited to liberal norms. Local peacebuilders have been introduced to a variety of ideas by external actors, which range from fundamental life philosophy (i.e., the Christian value of self-dedication, the meaning of compassion) to highly practical and operational features (i.e. age range of youth, regulations for financial transparency); these ideas have influenced and restricted the activities of local peacebuilders in different ways. Hence, in this volume, the term ‘external’ will be preferred to ‘international’ for denoting external actors who have influence on local peacebuilding practice unless it specifically indicates the so called ‘international community’ or particular foreign agencies. Moreover, the term ‘norm’ will be broadly used to denote various ways of thinking, standards, criteria and patterns, applied by external peacebuilding supporters.

Local Ownership, Hybrid Peace, and Everyday Peace

Of a wide range of theoretical debates on local turn of peacebuilding, this study aims to make contributions to four specific lines of discussions, namely norm diffusions into local communities, binary conceptualisation of international vs. local, power disparity between donors and aid recipients, and the complexities in the identities of local. Each of these debates will be reviewed and critically revisited based on the findings in the four case studies chapters and the conclusion.

Before developing discussions on such specific debates, however, this section offers a concise overview of the previous academic discourse on local turn in peacebuilding, which forms a theoretical and conceptual bedrock of the analytical framework of this study. Specifically, it will introduce and review the conventional academic debates on local ownership, hybrid peace and everyday peace, and explain how these concepts were adopted and applied in the empirical examination of the case studies of Cambodia and Mindanao.

Local Ownership

Until the 1980s, the discourse on ‘local ownership and control’ had been conducted in anthropological, sociological and developmental studies from the post-colonialist perspectives and ‘people centred development’. From these perspectives, returning the ownership of local governance was considered a form of ‘justice’ that brings the sovereignty back to the people in the society. For instance, David Korten (1990, 218) mentioned “the people must control their own resources, have access to relevant information, and have the means to hold the officials of government accountable” in order to gain freedom and democracy.

Local ownership was emphasized in Peace and Conflict Studies with a call for a context sensitive bottom-up approach that emphasizes local/indigenous knowledge as an alternative to the dominant liberal peacebuilding models (Craig and Porter 2006; Richmond 2006, 2011; Orr 2005; Paris 1997, 2010; Mac Ginty 2011). Normative discussions advocated the promotion of local ownership as desirable in that it supports local people’s rights to self-determination and offers more emancipatory modes for participation. In the studies developed from post-colonial perspectives, in particular, the concept of local ownership was framed in the context of foreign interference of local sovereignty, and local’s development of ownership was considered as a tool to resist against international forces, especially Western states.

In addition, an increasing number of studies empirically demonstrated the practical utilities of local models. These studies argue that the peacebuilding models developed by sub-national agencies and local actors can be more effective and efficient as they are more context sensitive, specific and therefore relatable and relevant (Paffenholz 2015). One area to which many studies pay attention, for example, is the legitimacy of peacebuilding and studies confirm that the legitimacy of new governance/peacebuilding programmes can be strengthened by adopting authentic local values and norms and generating a more nuanced understanding of local contexts (Kappler 2015; Arandel et al. 2015). In addition, the adoption of local perspectives may enable peacebuilders to overcome the operational limitations set by liberal peacebuilding (e.g., blueprint-type operational plans, institution-oriented approaches) and come up with innovative and culturally more compatible strategies (Arandel et al. 2015; Gibson and Woolcock 2008). Local actors may also be better in mobilizing local resources and expanding social networks, which are essential for settling peacebuilding at local levels (Hughes 2011).

In contrast, advanced local ownership and the hybridity incorporating local contexts do not necessarily bring about desired outcomes. More cautious studies warn that local contexts shouldn’t be romanticized, questioning ‘if the local contexts are so perfect, why had the societies gone through long and violent armed conflicts?’ Instead, many conflict-affected countries in Africa, Latin America and Asia have been serious affected by a long history of colonization and/or economic inequality. Moreover, in the aftermath of armed conflicts, a society presents a wide range of social problems such as psychological war-trauma, a distorted war economy, widespread violence, and a high level of corruption. Under such circumstances, the simple transfer of the ownership of peacebuilding programmes to a local population is risky and is likely to end in failure (Richmond 2009; Mac Ginty 2011; Futamura and Notaras 2011; Ramsbotham et al. 2011; Reich 2006).

Hence, indigenous cultures do not necessarily provide good sources of stable peace and sustainable development. Previous studies warn of potential/evident problems generated by advanced local ownership, which include local attempts to overturn the peace arrangement, peacebuilding exclusive serving the interests of local elites, self-harming practices of unprofessional locals, and constant disputes between local agencies at different levels (Barnett et al. 2014; Nadarajah and Rampton 2015; Millar 2014; Wallis et al. 2016; Mickler 2013; Raeymaekers 2013; Jarstad and Olsson 2012). Moreover, other studies highlight locally-driven peacebuilding’s limited structural impact. For instance, Henriques (2011, 173) presents that while Peace Laboratories in Colombia have “shown remarkable success at the micro level,” the overall trends in Colombia head “in the precise opposite direction.”

Hybrid Peace

‘Hybridity’ or ‘hybrid peace’ has been conceptualised as a way to understand how actual processes of peacebuilding are formed. Studies utilise the concept to move beyond a binary conceptualisation of external/indigenous dichotomy and explore peacebuilding as a more flexible and dynamic process.

As contemporary peacebuilding emerged in the post-Cold War period, few local actors can be insulated from the strong influence of Western donor agencies. All mainstream reconstruction processes from emergency relief to social reconciliation are either promoted or advocated by various types of Western supporters, the new central government or other local NGOs. Hence, apart from a number of initiatives led by local religious leaders, there are few grassroots organisations that can promote entirely free from external influence (Richmond 2010). In contrast, although such external interveners’ influence is strong, the implementation of Western interveners’ values and perspectives can only be done through local agencies’ “refurbishing and interpretation” and the final forms of implementation become the locally-driven contextualisation of the external models (as seen, for example, in the discussions of Reynolds et al. 2006, 298; Boyden and Mann 2005; White 2002; Woodhead 2006; Merry 2006, on the international norms of children’s rights and women’s rights).

From this perspective, a large number of studies demonstrate that, since the presence of the local is a constitutive marker of hybridity, to elucidate the local also serves to substantiate hybridity. For instance, Öjendal and Lilja (2009) explained how the patron-client system tradition was institutionalized within a formal democratic governing structure during the democratisation process in post-war Cambodia. By focusing on everyday agencies (individuals or organisations) of peacebuilding, an edited volume of Richmond and Mitchell (2011) presents many examples of hybrid peace, which were formed through constant interaction between external interveners’ perspectives and their local counterparts’ responses. Höglund and Orjuela (2012) argue and describe how the dissimilar and frequently contradictory positions of external donor groups and national actors complicate the interaction between them. A large volume of studies empirically examine the hybrid nature of the peacebuilding processes in different areas, some of which include Congo (Raeymaekers 2013), Sierra Leone (Tom 2013), Iraq (Henrizi 2015), Somalia (Moe 2015), Bouganville (Wallis 2012), Laos (Owen 2010), and Haiti (Donais and Burt 2015).

Hybrid peace can be either positive or negative. When it is utilized to address and resolve tensions between local and international peacebuilders, hybrid peace can be emancipatory and contributive. It may balance and legitimise multiple levels/different versions of peacebuilding practice. From this perspective, studies have proposed certain models of hybridity as goals to pursue, which can offer a better space for reflecting and harmonizing both non-Western norms and ideas as well as Western peacebuilding structures and delivery modes (Boege et al. 2008, 2009a, b; Barcham 2005; Clements 2009; Richmond 2010; Hoehne 2006; Moe 2009). A representative example of such academic studies by Boege et al. (2009b) that proposes various suggestions for incorporating liberal institutionalism with locally-available resources for peacebuilding in Pacific countries like Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Bougainville and Papua New Guinea. By using the concept of ‘grounded legitimacy,’ the study particularly demonstrates the different ways to develop linkages between central state institutions and local customary authorities. The examination of the UNDP’s Infrastructures for Peace projects by Kumar and Haye (2012) highlights that the success of hybrid peace is determined more by the process (i.e., constant and close dialogue between actors) than the final outputs (i.e., certain types of hybrid governance).

In contrast, in the contemporary peacebuilding processes a wide range of hybrid models appeared that are negatively instrumentalised, artificial, hegemonic, and one-sided (either highly international or local) (Mac Ginty and Richmond 2016). In these models, the framework of hybridity tended to be utilized by the power holders as a conceptual tool to ignore tension with their counterparts (mostly locals whose interests are subordinated) and obscure the power distribution between them. Hence, the hybrid governance models may eventually sustain the structural status quo in the conflict-affected societies (Richmond 2015; Dibley 2014). Millar (2014) proposes a typology of hybridity with four models—institutional, practical, ritual, and conceptual—and describes how these models may fail to deal with complex challenges in post-conflict societies. Tardy (2014) argues that hybrid peace may be more vulnerable to challenges such as institutional redundancy, incoherence, and accountability.

Everyday Peace

Although the locally-driven models of peacebuilding reviewed in this publication are not limited to the forms of everyday peace, the contemporary academic debates on everyday peace offer many insights relevant to this project. According to Roger Mac Ginty (2014), everyday peace denotes “the practices and norms deployed by individuals and groups in deeply divided societies to avoid and minimi[s]e conflict and awkward situations at both inter- and intra-group levels” (Mac Ginty 2014, 553). A few examples of such everyday practice are avoidance (of contentious topics of conversation, offensive displays or high-risk people), ambiguity (with sensitive issues), ritualised politeness, telling of social identification/categorisation, and blame deferring to outsiders.

The discourse on everyday in peacebuilding is relatively new. Many studies emerged in the late 2000s while attempting to identify and address the limitations of conventional liberal peacebuilding. It is risky to disconnect many of such liberal models, that primarily focus on formal institutional spheres, from the everyday lives of those in conflicts; thus, studies acknowledge the significance of less visible practices of peacebuilding that are carried out by local populations, and the proposed conceptual framework to properly examine these practices, by focusing on indigenous cultural/social resources or local communities’ everyday . From a more normative perspective, such everyday forms of peacebuilding can constitute more emancipatory and bottom-up approaches placing locals at the centre of peacebuilding (Brāuchler 2015; Richmond and Mitchell 2011; Mac Ginty 2014; Berents and McEvoy-Levy 2015; Felix da Costa and Karlsrud 2012; Tadjbakhsh 2011).

The utilities of everyday have been explored from conceptual, theoretical and practical perspectives (Randazzo 2016). A group of studies highlight that the non-institutional qualities of everyday enable researchers and field practitioners to avoid unrealistic notions of linear process or sequential time and accurately see the complex reality (Castañeda 2009; Mac Ginty 2008). Moreover, the discourse on everyday brings into the mainstream academic debates many dimensions of peacebuilding that occur in local people’s lives such as identify transformation, continued inter-personal and inter-group engagement, unofficial negotiation between elites and ordinary people (Heathershaw and Lambach 2008; Lidén 2009; Richmond 2009, 2010).

Out of various insights that such discourse has generated, one contention that is particularly relevant to local ownership building is that there are a wide range of local societies’ inner resources that cannot be fully recognised, utilized or developed through the analytical lens of external actors. Hence, if local actors’ modes of peacebuilding are to be fully applied and developed, supporters argue, the fundamental approaches to peacebuilding have to be constructed from local actors’ perspectives. These modes cover a much wider range of practice (which appear in people’s everyday lives) than the official or institutional arenas of peacebuilding that the mainstream post-war reconstruction processes primarily emphasise.

There have been criticisms of some limitations of everyday peace practices. For instance, everyday peace is frequently designed and implemented within (rather than challenging) a power context that is in favour of one certain social group over others. Moreover, the strategies for everyday peace may include the actions of insincerity, which require more prudent and careful examination to identify the real intention lying behind an action. The actions of everyday peace may be more about conflict management to control the level of violence and risk at stake, rather than conflict transformation that attempts to address root causes of social conflicts (Mac Ginty 2014). These features are relevant to many locally-driven models of peacebuilding in Mindanao and Cambodia. As will appear in the case study chapters, however, these features of local-level peacebuilding do not necessarily present the limitations. Instead, many operational features, designed to bring about consolidated peace in a conflict-driven society, that may look insufficient or undesirable from external commentators’ perspectives, are the deliberate choices of local peacebuilders. Local peacebuilders work to maintain their peacebuilding programmes more sustainably in the given structural, social and cultural conditions that they cannot transform immediately.

Conceptual Framework

This section will introduce the central framework for analysis adopted in this volume, which includes the meaning of peacebuilding, a typology of local peacebuilders’ strategies for ownership building, analytical approaches to the process and forms of ownership development, and the selection of case studies. Moreover, it will explain how the concepts and theoretical discussions introduced above are critically adopted in the formation of the central framework.

Firstly, this study analyses the promotion of local ownership as an outcome of the interaction between local peacebuilders and other relevant stakeholders (particularly, international donor agencies). The development of local models of peacebuilding is understood as a gradual and positive process through which local peacebuilders can challenge, compromise or modify the forms and standards set by external intervention (e.g., international donors, central government agencies). In terms of the specific analytical framework, this study proposes four distinct patterns of local peacebuilders’ ownership development that were prevalent outstanding during the author’s field visits to Cambodia and Mindanao and follow-up interviews conducted between 2014 and 2017. These are (1) ownership inheritance from an external advocate, (2) management of external influence, (3) friction-avoiding approaches, and (4) utilisation of religious/traditional leadership.

Moreover, local peacebuilding practices should be recognized as something evolving rather than fixed and as able to adapt to new or transforming realities and the changes in local contexts can be more rapid and radical than academic researchers or peacebuilding practitioners have previous surmised (Wallis 2012; Lee and Park 2018). Hence, while the four patterns above are prevalent with the agencies studied by the author, a more systematic study of a wider range of examples from a longer term perspective to confirm if the model can be generalised, which is beyond the scope of this project.

Secondly, theories of hybrid peace will be utilised to conceptualize various forms of peacebuilding, and the outputs of interaction between different actors. In particular, this study moves beyond the binary conceptualisation of an external/indigenous dichotomy and instead understands peacebuilding as a more flexible and dynamic process (Mac Ginty 2011; Zaum 2012; Belloni 2012). In examining these grassroots models, it is neither practically useful nor realistic to judge whether a local peacebuilder promotes a purely local model of peacebuilding. The local peacebuilders interviewed during the author’s field visits to Cambodia and Mindanao (some of whom are introduced in this book) do not aim to develop ‘anti-liberal’ or ‘non-Western’ models of peacebuilding. They tend to be open to any strategies or features that are more useful in pursuing their goals, and the models that they promote blend different forms, standards and values promoted by different actors with various backgrounds (e.g., the critical scholars in the global North, traditional rituals prevalent in the local areas, operational tools developed by another NGO in a neighbouring country).

The concept of hybridity is adopted and applied in examining the forms and procedures of local peacebuilding developed in Mindanao and Cambodia. Hybridity is useful in capturing the nature of peacebuilding development, which is determined and transformed by the compromise between different motivations posed by the actors involved. Moreover, the concept encourages people to pay balanced attention to the roles of local actors and international actors in building different peacebuilding models; thus, it offers a good conceptual ground to examine the procedures and outcomes of the interaction of different actors involved in peacebuilding. In short, the Asian models of peacebuilding are investigated in this study as outputs of the grassroots agencies’ interaction with other stakeholders; present hybrid forms reflecting both local norms, values and interests as well as Western liberal peacebuilding standards.

Thirdly, the adoption of everyday peace as an analytical framework enables us to examine “mechanisms deployed by so-called ordinary people” who have previously been conceptualised as “insular and passive” (Mac Ginty 2014, 551). In this sense, the analytical foci of this study highlights the strategic behaviour of local grassroots peacebuilding agencies vis-à-vis external actors. This is an attempt to address a methodological limitation observed in a wide range of previous empirical studies, which have focused on ‘how international supporters can foster local peacebuilders’. Although these studies contain a lot of constructive proposals and fair analysis, few of them approach such an issue from the local actors’ perspectives. In this sense, this book will turn its attention to local actors, questioning ‘how have the grassroots agencies in Asia developed their own models of peacebuilding?’ It will present critical reflections on the strategies implemented in two Southeast Asian countries, as well as lessons for promoting effective strategies for local actors in similar social contexts to develop their own capacities. This approach is expected to reveal that these peacebuilding models are determined and transformed by the compromise between different motivations posed by the actors involved. A few relevant theories which include power and dominance theories (Lukes 2005; Foucault 1979, 1982; Lenski 1984; Gaventa 2003; Vinthagen and Lilja 2015) and theories of social resistance (Scott 1987, 1992; Abu-Lughod 1990; Brown 1996; Helgesson 1999; Lilja et al. 2015) will be used to explain why and how local actors and external interveners interact to determine the key directions of peacebuilding in a certain society.

Fourthly, in evaluating the development of local peacebuilders’ ownership, this study adopts two most important indicators: changes in the composition of leadership and/or changes in the dynamics of interaction between locals and externals in the decision making process. Leadership change is a particularly important issue in the NGOs that were established and advocated from their outset (e.g., the Cambodian branch of Oxfam International). In these agencies, the leadership turn-over from foreign staff to local staff is an institutional indicator of local ownership promotion. For local organisations or civil associations that were formed by local actors, one main question is who determines the key direction of peacebuilding programmes. Although it is local people who operate peacebuilding agencies, external donors frequently have strong leverage over the nature of the programmes. These donors’ two most important leverages have been financial aid (funding) and skills/knowledge relevant to their projects.

Finally, the peacebuilding programmes in Cambodia and Mindanao are selected for in-depth case studies. What benefits do we get by looking at these two geographical areas in achieving the objective? One main reason for the selection is that Mindanao and Cambodia have long histories of promoting conflict resolution and peacebuilding, which started in the early 1990s. For just under 30 years, the local peacebuilding agencies have mobilised a variety of programmes for conflict resolution and peacebuilding, and the features of many ‘older’ programmes at local levels have developed and transformed throughout this period of time. Hence, compared to other countries that have a shorter history of peacebuilding, Mindanao and Cambodia have had a longer time for local peacebuilders to mobilise and revisit the unique peacebuilding models.

Another reason is that the presence of the international community was clear and influential in both areas. Cambodia experienced one of the first new interventions of the UN and other international organisations for post-war reconstruction emergent in the post-cold war period (Mayall 1996). The UN assumed the roles of a transitional government until 1993, and approximately 13% of Cambodia’s GDP relied on international economic aid during the first 10 years of post-war reconstruction (Ear 2007). Although Mindanao has not gone through such a total upsurge of international intervention, the number of international agencies that initiated or began to support peacebuilding programmes in Mindanao has rapidly increased since the late 1980s, especially after the Marcos regime collapsed. The increased influx of foreign assistance created the dynamics of peacebuilding in the area through interaction with civil society actors who had moved from northern parts of the Philippines, social elites in the local communities, and representatives of indigenous peoples in Mindanao. Hence, most local peacebuilding actors have mobilised and maintained their programmes through the constant interaction with their international advocates.

The study of the two cases requires a couple of caveats. One major caveat is that this project does not aim to generalise the findings to demonstrate common features of Asian peacebuilding. In addition to the small number of the research targets, the geographic proximity between the two areas increases the risk of research bias that marginalise the features apparent in other areas. Thus, the aim of this volume is primarily to identify the patterns of local ownership development that are outstanding in two Asian peacebuilding processes as of the mid 2010s. While the conclusion of this volume explores the applicability of the key findings to peacebuilding in other areas, the primary objective of this book is on understanding and explaining Mindanao and Cambodia.

Moreover, while examples from the two areas are occasionally analysed from a comparative perspective, this study does not posit them as the targets for a strict comparative study that aims to “examine patterns of similarities and differences across cases and try to come to terms with their diversity” (Ragin 1994, 107 cited in Neuman 2006, 437). In Mindanao and Cambodia there are a wide range of peacebuilding agencies that have dissimilar backgrounds, structural features, and types of operations. In addition, the four patterns are not necessarily mutually exclusive. Moreover, one peacebuilding agency may demonstrate the strategies relevant to multiple categories of Fig. 1.1. Hence, the identification and analysis of some common features will be limited to the extent to which they are acknowledged by the research participants from the local areas. Moreover, although the investigation of various reasons behind different operational features of peacebuilding programmes is important to the understanding of the nature of local peacebuilding, this area of analysis is omitted from the scope of this study due to the size of this volume.
Fig. 1.1

Four patterns of local peacebuilders’ ownership development

Outline of the Book

This research monograph consists of seven chapters including this introduction. Before moving on to the main empirical studies, Chapter  2 offers readers background information about the two case studies from a comparative perspective. The first half of each case study aims to introduce the historical, social, and contextual issues that determined the nature of peacebuilding and the relations between local stakeholders. The second half explains the major types of peacebuilding programmes and key features of local peacebuilders active in Cambodia and Mindanao.

The following four chapters (Chapters  3 6) examine four behavioural patterns of local peacebuilders as stated above. They examine how the four types of ownership promotion have been employed in the two areas, focusing specifically on the strategies local actors utilize to develop their unique models of peacebuilding, the distinguishing features of each of these, and their limitations as models of authentically local peacebuilding. Specifically, Chapter  3 introduces the ownership inheritance cases where local actors strengthen their commitment to the peacebuilding programmes concerned through external actors’ voluntary ownership transfer. Such ownership inheritance frequently takes place while an organisation initially established by external peacebuilding actors attempts to localise. In other cases, local actors’ high-level of commitment is designed and encouraged by external advocates from the outset. From a theoretical perspective, the chapter discusses that the local peacebuilders who inherit the ownership are likely to present different forms of norm diffusion and internalisation, adopting and internalising the value systems or core objectives set by the donor agencies.

Chapter  4 introduces a contrasting approach to ownership development, that entails grassroots peacebuilders’ efforts to reduce the influence from external donors by gaining more financial independence. While some peacebuilders operate social entreprise to mobilise their own funding sources, others attempt to diversify donor agencies or create an alliance of local peacebuilding agencies so that they can reduce their reliance on particular donors. Moreover, this chapter explains that the features of peacebuilding models developed by the grassroots peacebuilders may not present non-Western or anti-liberal forms.

In Chapter  5, a non-frictional model of promoting local ownership is explored. In both Cambodia and Mindanao, a large number of local actors choose not to overtly challenge the demands from their international donors. Instead, they attempt to push forward their agenda in the conventional structure for international-local collaboration, by redefining and operationalising the themes proposed by donors and occasionally use smoke-and-mirror strategies. This empirical finding questions whether conventional assumptions of power disparity in favour of donors is indeed valid. The theoretical significance of friction-avoiding approaches as a model of ownership promotion was discussed from two perspectives. On one hand, it offers concrete empirical examples relevant to informal and subtle forms of resistance in local communities’ ‘everyday peacebuilding’. On the other hand, it discovers the presence of a dual structure of power: while international aid donors may control the official and financial aspects of peacebuilding, it is local actors who determine the unofficial/procedural/operational mechanisms.

Chapter  6 examines a number of peacebuilding programmes developed by religious or traditional leaders in the local communities. Compared to other types of peacebuilders, religious or traditional leaders have more social capital for mobilising peacebuilding movements and their programmes frequently require less financial resources to maintain. Thus, the peacebuilding in this category is less reliant on external funding and more likely to demonstrate local actors’ unique perspectives and cultural contexts from the early stages of their development. At the same time, these leaders’ key interests and vision for peace are in many cases significantly different from the perspectives of other community residents, especially youth. Hence, their objectives for peacebuilding programmes may not be supported by wider communities. Based on this, Chapter  6 discusses the identity of local peacebuilders who work for the benefits of local communities but do maintain their own distinct interests and views.

Finally, Chapter  7 integrates the key findings appearing in the previous chapters and discusses their theoretical and practical implications. After summarising the key findings by focusing on three subordinate questions presented above, it revisits the conceptual and theoretical discussions on the meaning of ownership and the forms of local-external collaboration, and elaborates on how they should be interpreted in the context of local peacebuilding in Mindanao and Cambodia.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of OtagoDunedinNew Zealand

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