In the aftermath of the Liberian civil war, groups of ex-combatants seized control of natural resource enclaves in the rubber, diamond, and timber sectors. With some of them threatening a return to war, these groups were widely viewed as the most significant threats to Liberia's hard-won peace. Building on fieldwork and socio-historical analysis, this book shows how extralegal groups are driven to provide basic governance goods in their bid to create a stable commercial environment. This is a story about how their livelihood strategies merged with the opportunities of Liberia's post-war political economy. But it is also a context-specific story that is rooted in the country's geography, its history of state-making, and its social and political practices. This volume demonstrates that extralegal groups do not emerge in a vacuum. In areas of limited statehood, where the state is weak and political authority is contested, where rule of law is corrupted and government distrust runs deep, extralegal groups can provide order and dispute resolution, forming the basic kernel of the state. This logic counters the prevailing 'spoiler' narrative, forcing us to reimagine non-state actors and recast their roles as incidental statebuilders in the evolutionary process of state-making. This leads to a broader argument: it is trade, rather than war, that drives contemporary statebuilding. Along the way, this book poses some uncomfortable questions about what it means to be legitimately governed, whether our trust in states is ultimately misplaced, whether entrenched corruption is the most likely post-conflict outcome, and whether our expectations of international peacebuilding and statebuilding are ultimately self-defeating.
An introduction to a special issue on, "Post-conflict Peacebuilding & Corruption," points out the increasing emphasis of peacebuilders on corruption which impedes economic development, undermines the legitimacy & effectiveness of government, & encourages the unjust distribution of public resources. The papers in this issue focus on conceptual & political challenges that corruption poses to post-conflict peacebuilding. An exploration of the various ways that the political, institutional, & social dynamics in post-conflict societies lead to contested understandings of corruption is followed by a look at how specific acts of corruption affect the quality of post-conflict peace. Special attention is given to dangers in power-sharing between rival factions that involves "buying off" potential peace spoilers with promises that officeholders will be allowed to exploit economic opportunities provided by government positions. It is contended that corruption sometimes serves as a short-term stabilizing force but more often plays a disruptive role in peacebuilding. Other issues discussed include the importance of the quality of peace & strategies that have proven to be successful in stemming corruption. J. Lindroth
This article makes the case for feminist IR to build knowledge of international institutions. It emerges from a roundtable titled 'Challenges and Opportunities for Feminist IR: Researching Gendered Institutions' which took place at the International Studies Association Annual Convention in Baltimore in 2017. Here, we engage in self-reflexivity, drawing on our conversation to consider what it means for feminist scholars to 'study up'. We argue that feminist IR conceptions of narratives and the everyday make a valuable contribution to feminist institutionalist understandings of the formal and informal. We also draw attention to the value of postcolonial approaches and multi-site analyses of international institutions for creating a counter-narrative to hegemonic accounts emerging from both the institutions themselves, and scholars studying them without a critical feminist perspective. In so doing, we draw attention to the salience of considering not just what we study as feminist International Relations scholars but how we study it.