Contact By Mail

Susanna P. Campbell
Assistant Professor
School of International Service
American University
4400 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20016

Contact By Phone

(202) 885-1428

Bad Behavior? Explaining the Performance of International Peacebuilding Organizations

International Organizations (IOs), International Non-Governmental Organizations (INGOs), and bilateral donors give an increasing amount of their time and money to build peace in countries recovering from civil war and other situations of armed conflict. A glance at international headlines points to the huge difficulties facing these interventions, which aim to transform a state where neighbor kills neighbor into one where former enemies govern and live together peacefully. International actors aim to do this through organizational structures that are designed to respond to the timeframes and priorities of their headquarters and funders outside of the country, not to the war-affected population that they aim to serve. In spite of the huge challenges facing international peacebuilding efforts, they sometimes succeed in building a modicum of peace.

IOs, INGOs, and bilateral donors have made important contributions to post-war transitions, not just by providing money to support negotiations or by deploying peacekeeping operations, but also by implementing targeted, nuanced and highly adaptable peacebuilding interventions. Countries like Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Burundi are no longer fraught with devastating civil war and are now run by democratically elected governments, allowing better representation of and improved responsiveness to the needs of at least some of the population. However minimal these changes may be, there are surely not insignificant, especially at the sub-national level. Of course, international actors are not solely responsible for these incremental successes, but empirics point to their instrumental role in some of them. How do we explain these instances of IO, INGO, and bilateral donor peacebuilding performance, in which they help a country advance along its war-to-peace transition?

The project has two concrete objectives. First, it will test and refine a theory developed by Dr. Susanna Campbell that explains IO, INGO and bilateral donor performance in war-to-peace transitions, with the ultimate aim of creating a generalizable theory. Second, it will expand on her work undertaken so far to cover different regional organizations engaged in peacebuilding. In order to achieve their research objectives, Dr. Susanna Campbell and Prof. Stephanie Hofmann will combine their extensive academic knowledge and field research experience, and jointly study various case study organizations over a ten to fifteen year period in two countries: Haiti and Liberia. The focal point of analysis will therefore be country-level offices of IOs, INGOs, and government aid agencies that have a clearly specified peacebuilding aims, within these two countries.

The findings from this project have significance for the theoretical debates within International Relations on the performance of IOs, INGOs, and donor aid agencies and the role of accountability, legitimacy, informal institutions, and institutional change therein. It will also shed light on the effectiveness of current policies and tools intended to improve peacebuilding performance, and provide a potentially important framework for peacebuilding organizations to assess and improve their positive contribution to post-war transitions.