Failed statebuilding versus peace formation

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This article outlines the often countervailing forces and norms of state formation, statebuilding and peacebuilding according to their associated theoretical approaches. It introduces a new concept of 'peace formation', which counterbalances a reliance on internal violent or externalised institutions' agency, reform and conditionality. Without incorporating a better understanding of the multiple and often critical agencies involved in peace formation, the states emerging from statebuilding will remain as they are: failed by design. This is because they are founded on externalised systems, legitimacy and norms rather than a contextual, critical and emancipatory epistemology of peace. Engaging with the processes of peace formation may aid international actors in gaining a better understanding of the roots of a conflict, how local actors may be assisted, how violence and power-seeking may be ended or managed and how local legitimacy may emerge. © The Author(s) 2013.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)378-400
Number of pages22
JournalCooperation and Conflict
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2013


  • Liberal peacebuilding
  • peace formation
  • state formation
  • statebuilding

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute


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