Essay on Lessons Learned and Not Learned: Kosovo, East Timor, Sierra Leone, and Beyond

Published: 2021/11/16
Number of words: 787

Since 1990s the international community has been on the fore front rebuilding peace in states that have been having war and violent conflict. Currently the UN is engaged in several peace building and political missions in the entire world fostered by massive peace operations that have been going on (Rocha & Kilpatrick, 2005). The strategies adopted to solve conflict have been focusing on Wilson’s peace building model which adopted in the post world war which has failed in recent conflicts that are civil in nature by producing new challenges to peace building.

In the post-Cold War world, there has been a widely held assumption amongst scholars and policymakers that the sure prescription for peace after civil conflict is the rapid implementation of liberal democracy and market-oriented economics. Paris (2004) argues that the approach is unsubstantiated that liberalization has led to opposite effects. Although this does not mean that countries with UN building missions are worse but the liberal thesis should be applied cautiously since the transition process is faced with spill back danger ( Brahm, 2004).

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The UN has launched peace building missions in many countries that have fully and partly succeeded. The strategies adopted by the UN have been the same strategies as compared to how the law is build on precedence. The strategy used in one country and somehow bares fruit is applied in another peace keeping mission even though the conditions may be difficult, since these states may have different circumstances and conditions under which conflict is arising. Lessons learnt from Kosovo, East Timor, Sierra Leone and beyond have shown that this does not apply well.

Lack of time for planning, misinterpreting the situation that is on the ground and the dependency that any peace building and after conflict are high. Applying one model used in one mission to another like from Kosovo to East Timor may be misapplication since the conditions on the ground may vary. The cooperation from local bureaucrats and elites may pose a major challenge to the mission success. The UN for example failed to apply the Kosovo blue print to fit the situation of Timor because of the assumptions of the mission that the situation on the ground was extensive.

Most peace building missions have been offering “a shock therapy” of democratization or economic reforms rather than controlling liberalization of the state which is fostered by building institutions that will run the economic and political reforms. The mission is operating in states where there is no central unit coordinating peace but they have been focusing on peace promotion through the development of a market economy and democracy (Rocha & Kilpatrick, 2005).

Democracy has been challenged on several accounts, electoral distrust and loss had led to power sharing which gives birth to the warlords going back to the battlefield. The new voted governments contained extremists individuals who took the country back to anti-democratic electoral completion which led to conflict again. The problem is thus putting the countries that are out of war under pressure to hold an election and make market reforms as a measure of a successful mission.

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Paris (2004) argues that the logic of market and democracy is a wrong approach but the peace builders should build institutions or construct institutions that can lead to stability and proper administration before economic and political reform. Institutionalization before liberalization should be applied to transform the states to a stable society coupled with productive economies. The states should not be rushed to elections until the conditions are in place. This means that elections post war states is not a measure of success to scale down operations, they should wait until the conditions are okay and design an electoral system which is promoted by civil society and controlled hate speech and have a common denominator used in state institutions.

This means any peace building mission should focus on making the conditions on the ground viable for any approach that will be developed to restore peace after conflict. The approach developed should be holistic in ensuring that the primary condition put in place will accommodate all the parties that are involved in the conflict. This will help in creating a neutral start of balance that will be appreciated by all the parties.


Eric Brahm (2004), At War’s End: Building Peace after Civil Conflict

Thorsten Benner, Andrea Binder, Philipp Rotmann (2007) Learning to Build Peace? United Nations Peace building and Organizational Learning: Developing a Research Framework GPPi research paper series no 7.

Roland Paris (2004), At War’s End: Building Peace after Civil Conflict, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Alina Rocha Menocal and Kate Kilpatrick(2005), Towards more effective peace building, Development in Practice, Volume 15, Number 6, November 2005

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