Governance Structures in a Post Conflict Environment - Brief Description


Countries, regions or societies where there is a total or considerable breakdown of authority are characterised by the lack of central government authority, conflict amongst different interest groups, collapse of governance structures, establishment of new power structures enforced through guns, mass suffering of the citizens, sporadic or continuous armed conflicts.

In many cases the central state has been traditionally weak vis-à-vis local forces, leading to the growth of powerful regionally based groups. State structures break down and are no longer functional. Essentially, the are warlord structures that originated during military conflicts and that have sustained themselves through a political economy of war based on drug production, smuggling, plunder and foreign aid. Some have appalling human rights records, including genocide, mass deportation to mention just few excesses. Neighbouring states in the area often have major and mostly conflicting stakes in the future of a country. The distribution of power inside the country bears evidence of this war time status.

The viability of a nation building process depends ultimately on the establishment of a legitimate state that is responsive to the demands of the population and that is gradually able to resist threats from regional military groups within the country as well as pressure from international actors.

To reduce the militarisation of politics in the nation building process, and to break a  country’s regional economies of war, the international community often needs to step in to support national institutions at the national, and sub-national level (regional, provincial, district, and community level). Both military and developmental interaction is required. In many countries two distinct and partly competing politico-administrative organisations exist.

One maybe some form of a national administrative structure as provided for in the Constitution. The other structure rests on military power rather than constitutional legitimacy. Based on geographic regions, it evolves from the rule of the warlords and the establishment of various military commanders.  The idea of a unitary state based upon modern state institutions (including a national police, army, educational system, etc.) have to be embodied in the constitution of a country. There is a distinct gap between the theory of unitary structure and the practice of decentralised power. This method describes some principles and procedures required to promote and achieve nation building.