NEW SULUHU WORKING PAPER: “When State Institutions Undermine Statebuilding”

After a long hiatus, we’re happy to publish the fourth Suluhu Working Paper. Written by Trevor Bachus, an independent researcher based in St Louis, this paper questions the interconnections between armed patronage, hybrid governance and the privatisation of violence in the eastern Congo. 

The paper digs into a wide range of conflict and statehood theories and offers a powerful critique focusing on the international policy mantra of top-down and externally driven statebuilding efforts.

Looking at two case studies in the eastern Congo, it illustrates how conventional assumptions about statebuilding face empirical limitations. It also highlights that greed is only one in many factors the drive economic incentives for violence and conflict, and that patronage, hybrid governance and privatized violence are inspired by multiple short-term and more entrenched dynamics. 

These dynamics relegate the establishment of a monopoly of violence to a secondary objective due to both strategic (for such a monopoly is difficult to achieve) and pragmatic considerations (for such a monopoly may not be the prime objective of key stakeholders). Here is the abstract of the paper:

Based on two intertwined arguments, this paper demonstrates how top-down statebuilding in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has helped to perpetuate armed conflict. First, eastern Congo’s extractive economy allows for military and political elites to use conflict for profit. Second, political turmoil that has developed out of over 20 years of armed conflict prevents these officers and other elites from developing steady long-term relationships. The paper underpins these arguments with a qualitative research design, using analyses of military behaviour in two large-scale military operations. In so doing, the paper explains why international statebuilding efforts in Congo have failed to stop conflict. Army efforts at building relationships with other armed actors have instead inflamed local tensions and sustained conflicts. The paper thus addresses a gap in the literature of political marketplaces, showing how national actors help to maintain more localized rebel networks.

You can download the full paper by clicking here.

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