International NGOs and Bureaucratic Capacity: Facilitating or Destroying?
with Matthew DiGiuseppe and Amanda Murdie
Abstract: Do international non-governmental organizations (INGOs) facilitate or destroy the bureaucratic capacity of the states in which they operate? The literature is split on this question. Some scholars argue that INGOs weaken state capacity by delivering social services that the government is supposed to provide. Others argue that by increasing a country’s domestic demand for improved human rights, INGOs improve a government’s capacity to fulfill them. In this paper, we show that the effect of INGOs on state capacity depends upon whether a state is democratic or non-democratic. In our cross-sectional time-series analysis, we find that INGO presence has a significant positive relationship with state capacity in democracies, but no relationship with state capacity in non-democratic states. These findings help to explain the inconsistent claims in the exiting INGO literature and are also relevant for INGOs and the policymakers that support them.
Contracting Sovereignty: How Weak States Reclaim their Authority to Govern
Abstract: Dozens of International Organizations (IOs), International Non-Governmental Organizations (INGOs), and States intervene in each fragile and conflict-affected country to save lives and build the foundations for sustainable peace and development. International relations literature assumes that once these global governors exercise, possess, or assert their authority to intervene in a country’s domestic territory, they do not have to renegotiate this authority (Lake 2010). This paper argues that a conflict-affect state renegotiates the authority of IOs, INGOs, and intervening states regularly through formal contracts and procedures. IOs, INGOs, and intervening states require the agreement and cooperation of the ‘host’ government to import procured goods, hire staff, establish their offices, and implement new strategies and programs. Through these daily interactions, the ‘host’ government reclaims some of its sovereign authority from these intervening organizations. The maintenance of contracts therefore enables supposedly weak states to wield significant power over the actors in global governance that operate on their territory. Contrary to claims in the international relations literature that international interveners impose their agenda on weak states, this paper uses detailed ethnographic fieldwork and archival research to show that conflict-affected states are increasingly using contractual arrangements to exercise significant power over international actors intervening on their territory.
The Curse of Success: Understanding Burundi’s Failed Transition out of War
Abstract: Burundi was long held as up as the international community’s peacebuilding success case. After a deadly ethnic war that left over 300,000 Burundians dead, a regionally-led peace process and the African Union’s first peace operation effectively ended the civil war between the CNDD-FDD rebel group and Burundi’s Armed Forces (FAB) in 2003. The lingering violent conflict between the newly integrated National Defense Force (FDN) and the FNL rebel group finally ended in 2010, just in time for Burundi’s second round of post-conflict elections. Burundi was one of the first two countries placed on the agenda of the UN Peacebuilding Commission in 2006. This enabled Burundi to receive millions of dollars from the UN Peacebuilding Fund and led several new bilateral donors to invest in building peace there, all of whom were eager to claim Burundi as one of their top successes. Burundi’s quick descent into political violence since President Nkurunziza’s decision to stand for a third term in May 2015 has thrown Burundi back toward the brink of war. This paper traces the evolution of Burundi’s peacebuilding process between 1999 and 2015, demonstrating that even during the best of times political violence and cooperation coexisted. It argues that international actors’ need to label Burundi as a peacebuilding success prevented them from addressing the increasing violence and authoritarianism, undermining the ‘peace’ that they were so focused on building.
Not Built for Peace: Why Informal Accountability Determines International Peacebuilding Success
Abstract: Of central concern to the study of international organizations is their ability to achieve the normative aims of their principals. Existing scholarship on International Organizations (IOs), International Non-Governmental Organizations (INGOs), and state aid agencies has explained their success and failure in terms of institutional design, bureaucratic pathologies, and headquarter-level interactions between IOs, INGOs, and states. Scholars have largely ignored the behavior and performance of these global governors’ country-level offices, assuming that they simply implement the tasks delegated to them. Using evidence from the hard case of international peacebuilding, I show that IOs, INGOs, and bilateral donors vary significantly in their ability to achieve their local peacebuilding aims; heterogeneity that existing peacebuilding and global governance scholarship fail to explain. I argue that IOs, INGOs, and bilateral donors achieve positive peacebuilding performance only when they have formal accountability routines that prioritize peacebuilding and informal field-based accountability routines. Individual country-level staff create these informal accountability routines by circumventing formal routines, delegating informal power to local actors who are underrepresented by institutions of global governance. The implication is that the legitimacy of IOs, INGOs, and bilateral donors in the international security policy arena is partly dependent on the agency of individual staff who are willing to bypass the systems their principals established to hold them accountable. In other words, bad behavior is necessary for good performance.
Aiding Peace: Donor Behavior in Conflict-Affected Countries
with Michael Findley
(Working Paper and Book Manuscript)
Abstract: Despite prominent claims by international development organizations that they run highly conflict-sensitive operations, little is known about how the international community acts and reacts to the dynamics of civil war peace processes. This study hypothesizes that during peace processes foreign aid donors are motivated by four primary factors: their own strategic interest, their organizational flexibility, positive cooperative events, and negative conflictual events. Using subnationally-geocoded foreign aid information, and relying on extensive interviews in Kinshasa and Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, we examine the extent to which these four factors encourage or discourage substantial changes in foreign aid donors’ development assistance. The results show that while both conflictual and cooperative events influence changes in the foreign aid of all donors, their direction of shift is counterintuitive. Donors give more aid in response to conflict than cooperation. This may reward national actors who participate in violent conflict more than those who cooperate in the absence of violent conflict. Within the population of donors, those with strategic interest in the DRC make larger shifts – negative and positive – in subnational foreign aid allocation over time. Donors with strategic interest are generally more sensitive to the dynamics of civil war peace processes than those without strategic interest. Organizational flexibility, as coded in this study, does not appear to affect aid allocation in most cases. This analysis is a first step towards a comprehensive coding and analysis of foreign aid dynamics during peace processes, which will be based on data from the DRC, Sudan, and Nepal as well as survey experiments with donors in other countries.
The Micro-Dynamics of Peacebuilding: A Quasi-Experimental Spatial Impact Evaluation in Burundi
with Michael Findley and Danny Walker
When does international peacebuilding assistance have the desired sub-national effect in post-conflict countries? The literature on UN peace operations argues that the presence of robust and well-resourced UN peacekeeping operations helps to prevent some post-conflict countries from falling back into war, although countries that have experienced civil war still have a 57 percent rate of recidivism. The literature on international aid argues that more aid combined with a particular mixture of policy reforms will help to stabilize post-conflict contexts, but does not tell us how this mixture comes about. Based on the findings from our 2013 quasi-experimental impact evaluation of US$ 44 million that the UN Peacebuilding Fund allocated to Burundi between 2007 and 2013, we argue that the sub-national effect of international aid to post-conflict countries is due, in part, to how activities are implemented. Our quasi-experimental spatial study, combining a large household level survey with almost 200 semi-structured interviews, shows that the same organization with the same type of project can be successful in one location, but fail in another, in part because of how individual staff carry out its implementation. We thus identify the conditions under which peacebuilding assistance helps or hurts, which moves away from probabilistic accounts that ignore the important role played by project implementation and the individual staff who carry it out.