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Goodhand, Jonathan and Walton, Oliver (2009) 'The Limits of Liberal Peacebuilding: International Engagement in the Sri Lankan Peace Process.' Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding, 3 (3). pp. 303-323.

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This essay explores international engagement in the Sri Lankan peace process between 2002 and 2008. The internationalization of peacebuilding in Sri Lanka is analysed as part of a broader international shift towards a model of ‘liberal peacebuilding’, which involves the simultaneous pursuit of conflict resolution, liberal democracy and market sovereignty. The essay provides a detailed and disaggregated analysis of the various exporters, importers and resisters of liberal peacebuilding, with a particular focus on the contrasting ways in which the United National Front (UNF) and the United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA) regimes engaged with international actors. It is argued that an analysis of the Sri Lankan case provides a corrective to some of the core assumptions contained in much of the literature on liberal peacebuilding. Rather than viewing liberal peacebuilding as simply an hegemonic enterprise foisted upon countries emerging from conflict, the essay explores the ways in which peacebuilding is mediated through, and translated and instrumentalized by, multiple actors with competing interests – consequently liberal peacebuilding frequently looks different when it ‘hits the ground’ and may, as in the Sri Lanka case, lead to decidedly illiberal outcomes. The essay concludes by exploring the theoretical and policy implications of a more nuanced understanding of liberal peacebuilding. It is argued that rather than blaming the failure of the project on deficiencies in its execution and the recalcitrance of the people involved, there is a need to look at defects in the project itself and to explore alternatives to the current model of liberal peacebuilding.

Item Type: Journal Article
Keywords: Sri Lanka, conflict, liberal peacebuilding, peace process, aid, donor policy
SOAS Departments & Centres: Legacy Departments > Faculty of Law and Social Sciences > Department of Development Studies
ISSN: 17502985
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 15 Jul 2009 08:41

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