Chapter 15: Ownership: from policy to practice
The language of ownership has become nearly ubiquitous in international peace-building contexts, and with good reason. Some two decades of empirical evidence from a range of different contexts has underscored the limits of external interventions aimed at engineering socio-economic and political change from the outside in, while a growing consensus is emerging within both policy and academic communities – preached, if not always practised – that for change to be sustainable, it has to be ‘owned’ by those who have to live with it. While it may be possible to imagine a limited form of peace that is imposed, and enforced, by external actors, the argument that genuine peace – or ‘justpeace’ in the language of John Paul Lederach (Lederach and Appleby 2010, p._23) – can only emerge through an endogenous process of relationship transformation involving those most affected by the conflict remains compelling. Thus, as a 2010 official review of the United Nations (UN) peace-building architecture put it, ownership is not simply desirable, or a manifestation of political correctness, but rather ‘an imperative, an absolute essential, if peace-building is to take root’ (United Nations 2010, p._9). In the context of international interventions in fragile or war-torn states, ownership – usually prefaced with the adjectives ‘local’ or ‘national’ – refers to the extent to which domestic actors and institutions control both the design and implementation of political change processes.
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