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The Ethnic Conflict Research Digest

2006, Vol, 6 No. 1 .

Post-conflict Development: Meeting New Challenges
Gerd Junne and Willemijn Verkoren (eds)

Colorado: Lynne Rienner Publishers, Inc., 2005,
350 pp, PB 18.95 ISBN 1-58826-303-7

This book looks at how development can prevent violent conflict from resurfacing in post-conflict societies and, more specifically, how international organisations and other actors can satisfactorily go about ?designing and implementing development strategies in post-conflict settings? (5). As the two co-editors point out at the very end of the book, the purpose is also to ?make a contribution to the exchange of experiences among different conflict regions, ? increase the awareness of potential pitfalls and [offer] ? positive examples that provide inspiration to others that have to cope with similar situations? (326).

Co-editors Junne and Verkoren broadly introduce the topic in Chapter 1 and make a good case for why a re-evaluation of the field of post-conflict development is necessary and why it is essential to integrate the fields of conflict resolution theory/practice with development theory/practice in order to achieve the best long-term solutions in post-conflict settings. The general assumption is that renewed conflict is likely to be prevented by economic and social development and an even distribution of the fruits of these.

The following 12 chapters deal with a wide range of sector-specific post-conflict development issues, including security-sector reform, restoring the rule of law, the (re)building of institutions, reforming education, the media?s role, reconstructing infrastructure as well as financial aspects. Added to these more general chapters are three case studies of how post-conflict development has actually been carried out in Mozambique, Cambodia and El Salvador. Several of the more ?general? chapters also contain case-specific analyses, such as Chapter 3 (Kosovo), Chapter 4 (East Timor), Chapter 9 (East Timor) and Chapter 13 (Palestine and Afghanistan). Discussions in these are however, sector-specific and generally, applicable conclusions are drawn.

The various authors of the book come from a mixture of backgrounds and their combined experience and knowledge lends credence to the book as a whole as the chapters are generally written by someone with significant practical and/or academic experience within their field of expertise. The book at large also combines theory and practice, though with clear emphasis on the latter. In fact, one of the book?s many strengths is that the reader is offered hands-on ideas and suggestions of how development of various sectors in societies can be carried out following conflict.

A few minor issues could however be raised about the book. First of all, the focus of the book is on states that have completely collapsed/failed and little reference is hence made to ?semi-collapsed? states coming out of conflict with parts of the administrational/political structures still intact. Although lessons could be learned from the former by the latter, there is obviously a huge difference between conditions and needs in countries such as East Timor and Northern Ireland. Certainly, the scope of the book had to be limited, but it would still have benefited from more discussion of for instance, what impact conflict intensity (minor armed conflict versus civil war) and type of incompatibility/conflict (government or territory), have on the post-conflict development process. Secondly, there also seems to be an indirect assumption in the book that intervention and take-over of the post-conflict development process by a third-party is generally necessary. In my view, complementary discussions focused on, for example, help to self-help would have added value to the book. Finally, some topics are raised in Chapter 1 that are not really followed through in any great detail in the following chapters (except to a certain extent in the concluding chapter). For instance, the assumption that ?the challenges of post-conflict development vary with the causes of the conflict ? depending on the level of social organization at which the root cause are situated? (7) is not built upon in the rest of the book. The reader might therefore find it frustrating when topics are highlighted and then not actually dealt with in detail.

These last points aside, the book is definitely ambitious and covers an extensive amount of issues relevant to post-conflict development. In addition to offering a considerable amount of practical information and advice that could indeed inspire people experiencing and/or working in post-conflict situations, a number of ideas for further research are also raised in the concluding chapter. The book is hence not only useful for its target audience, namely practitioners and implementers of development programmes in post-conflict contexts, but also for students and academics with a general interest in post-conflict development issues.

Jessica Blomkvist, Intercomm, INCORE intern, Spring 2005

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