Handbook of International Security and Development
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Handbook of International Security and Development

Edited by Paul Jackson

The Handbook of International Security and Development provides a survey of current thinking within the field of security and development. With a wide range of chapters that offer a guide to the core approaches, methods and issues, this book explores the links between the two and includes contributions from both practitioners and academics. With topics ranging from the politics of aid by remote control through to intervention and the re-establishment of security and demobilisation of combatants, this Handbook provides a comprehensive introduction to the literature and approaches used in the field of security and development.
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Chapter 15: Ownership: from policy to practice

Timothy Donais


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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