5 Development in difficult contexts
There have been more than 200 wars in the past half-century. Nearly all of them have been civil wars – wars within a single country. Although there have been many attempts to generalise about civil wars, only one generalisation seems to hold true – each war is different. There are no ‘best practice’ handbooks; experience from one war is often not applicable to another. Further, many of the glib generalisations about civil wars, usually characterised by words or phrases such as ‘greed’ or ‘tribe’ or ‘ancient hatreds’ or ‘mindless violence’, turn out on investigation to not provide a satisfactory explanation for the war, and thus provide a poor guide for intervention.
Outside interveners have provoked wars and made many wars much worse. But outsiders are often an essential part of a peace process, helping to bring people together and to broker the social and economic changes that are needed to bring about a lasting peace. In some cases, military intervention has been essential to create the conditions for building peace. The goal of Open University course TU875 War, intervention and development is to provide tools that can be used to make interventions positive rather than negative. A central premise is that because each war is different, the first step to improving intervention is to understand the roots of the war and the roles and goals of the various actors. It is this central premise that this unit addresses. We stress a developmental, institutional, structural perspective in dealing with interventions in war and peace. Limitations of time and space mean we will not deal with interpersonal issues such as mediation, conflict resolution and reconciliation, but we can sensitise you to the management of peacebuilding, and help you think about solving problems in a creative way. Thus, in this unit we introduce you to decision-making and management skills in civil war and post civil war contexts.