This theme will analyze how statehood is negotiated in conflict-prone societies (i.e. in post-conflict settings). Post-conflict reconstruction and decentralisation are proposed as entry points for analysis. Challenging the negative connotations linked to expressions like “fragile” or “weak” states and economies, it assumes that specific political, social, and economic situations require specific forms of statehood in order to perform adequate functions and to help increase the resilience of societies.

Statehood in a Post-Conflict Setting
The research objective is to develop a critical view of how statehood is conceived and constructed by actor groups in a post-conflict setting. This will be done by analysing competing discourses and practices in relation to what constitutes legitimate authority. We posit that global practices and discourses concerned with “governance”, “democratisation”, and “participation” etc. transcend the local, and actors at the local level actively engage and transform these very notions on a daily basis. New types of statehood are thus observable that represent a high potential for syndrome mitigation. Rather than using a predefined and ethnocentric approach to state-building, we investigate multiple concepts of statehood from the perspective of the different actors involved.


Laurent Goetschel
Swiss Peace Foundation, Bern, Switzerland