Why Peace Fails—The Causes and Prevention of Civil War Recurrence by Charles T. Call. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 2012. 328 pp. $32.95 (paper).
Article first published online: 9 DEC 2013
© 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc
Volume 27, Issue 1, pages 166–169, January 2014
How to Cite
Lockhart, C. (2014), Why Peace Fails—The Causes and Prevention of Civil War Recurrence by Charles T. Call. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 2012. 328 pp. $32.95 (paper). Governance, 27: 166–169. doi: 10.1111/gove.12060
- Issue published online: 9 DEC 2013
- Article first published online: 9 DEC 2013
This book examines how inclusionary and exclusionary approaches to brokering and implementing peace agreements contribute to the durability of those agreements. The author characterizes four approaches to peace-building: liberal peace-building, republican peace-building, peace-building as governance or state-building, and critical approaches to peace-building. He then sets out the concept of exclusionary and inclusionary behavior, defined as the “perceived or actual deprivation of an expected opportunity for former warring parties, or the social groups associated with them, to participate in state administration, through either appointed posts or elected office,” and seeks to distinguish this approach from the four existing approaches he has characterized. He pays particular attention to power-sharing as a subset of inclusion, adopting Hartzell and Hoddie's definition of four types of power-sharing—political, security, economic, and territorial.
Using quantitative analysis, one detailed case study, and a set of shorter case studies between 1944 and 2007, the author investigates the extent to which exclusionary behavior is associated with the recurrence of civil war and the extent to which inclusionary behavior is associated with a peace that holds. He concludes that political exclusion is often a central component where civil war recurs, although it is neither a necessary nor sufficient condition. He also concludes that 85% of the cases of nonrecurrence are associated with inclusionary behavior. He then offers a set of recommendations for theory, policy, and practice that would privilege power-sharing arrangements in particular and inclusionary practices in general.
The book's major contribution is to focus attention on the critical policy issue of why peace agreements break down and on the central importance of political dynamics following the apparent achievement of peace. The author initially recognizes that many causes contribute to the success or failure of peace agreements, such as the failure of monopoly on the use of force to be consolidated through peace-keeping or domestic forces, the interference of neighbors, or grievances on social or economic issues. He chooses to single out one of these for detailed examination—inclusionary behavior.
The author makes a choice to define the criteria for inclusionary behavior in a particular way, as a power-sharing approach that allocates positions in security forces and state administrative positions to former leaders of warring factions. The book mentions the dangers of such approaches—inflexibility, failure to include broader participation, the risk that this approach will channel mistrust and conflict into institutions of governance, the risk that deals that inherently exclude others may revert to conflict, and that the inclusion of some factions or leaders undermine internal and external legitimacy—and discounts these dangers. It also discounts the cases cited as exceptions, where power-sharing failed, including in Afghanistan, Yemen, and Congo, and cases where peace stuck in the absence of power-sharing, including in Jordan, Vietnam, and South Korea. Recent cases and fieldwork indicate that corruption and misgovernance that arise from giving positions of authority to power brokers used to organizing and provisioning for war can indeed sow the seed of the next round of conflict. While the inclusion of individuals in positions of national level power is surely critical, these recent cases also underscore the importance of enfranchisement in local decision making, and processes and outcomes that address citizen grievances and aspirations. The argument that international norms tend to include some broader popular participation in the deal-making is evidently not sufficient in many cases to deliver on the imperative to give the “masses of the population … a stake in post-war peace-building.” It is surely the very institutionalization and pursuit of fair policies and protection for all citizens—which the author dismisses—that can do this.
By presenting the quest for legitimacy as an alternative to state-building, the book does not consider the centrality for the maintenance of peace of how to create legitimacy through institution-building. An agenda of institution-building and the question of how to organize politics and power-sharing are and should not be distinct. How institutions work in practice—who leads them, under what the rules of operation, who benefits, and who loses—is an inherently political question. Legitimacy is not just one among many functions but the outcome of delivery across a combination of factors, and the foundational pillar of enduring stability. It is surely arriving at formulae for governance that minimally protect the security and basic needs of citizens, and go toward addressing their underlying grievances, interests, and aspirations, through institutional mechanisms and the implementation of policies that is as or more relevant to keeping the peace, than including their leaders in positions of power. A central question for peace-building should be whether a politics of division of spoils of war can evolve into a politics of accountability and delivery to, and protection of, citizens.
Toward the end of the book, the argument looks beyond the conclusion that elites should be included in positions of power, observing that historical context and linked factors call for a broader understanding of legitimacy where inclusion “must be understood as part of state–society relations that are minimally institutionalized and accepted—that is, legitimate.” The book also observes, in contrast to its earlier privileging of inclusion through positions in the state, the critical nature of the ability of the state to meet social expectations about delivering basic services, as crucial to whether armed challengers emerge, and the assertion that long-term peace depends on the outlines of a social contract with the populace.
The study leaves the reader with a wish for deeper examination as to the relative success of different types of inclusionary behavior, and what type of process and mechanisms can deliver on the imperative of arriving at a social contract. When is it appropriate to have a power-sharing deal based on including individual leaders from conflict, and when should an alternative or complementary approach be pursued, of building a social contract with the citizenry, by enfranchising societal groups both through democratic mechanisms and through institutions and policies that address societal groups’ expectations for inclusion in institutions, policies, and equal treatment under the law? The imperative of reaching broader participation—as the author recognizes in the penultimate page—is made all the more critical in light of the emerging demands of the street in protests across the world. It is hard to imagine that elite deals that do not take greater account of citizen demands for enfranchisement and changes in policy will hold order in many societies around the world.
Perhaps the book's most valuable contribution can be found in its final chapter where conclusions for policy and practice are discussed. The book closes with a sophisticated analysis of why legitimacy-building by external actors is so difficult, and an invaluable analysis of the four moments in postwar political processes where decisions that shape the political order are taken: (1) deciding on transitional arrangements and rulers, (2) state design, (3) elections and the end of interim governance, and (4) state legitimacy after elections.
The book serves two audiences. The first audience is academic specialists, who will be equipped to understand the material in its academic context, weigh the evidence, and assess the policy conclusions. The second is a policy audience, for whom the last chapter, “Conclusions for Policy and Practice” would be relevant—and in particular could benefit from the assessment of the critical nature of the four moments in peace implementation.