Elizabeth Royall – Part V
Conclusions and Recommendations
• Intervene in postconflict countries sparingly, carefully, and with a
modest agenda. Postconflict countries can rarely create successful
democracy in the West’s likeness. When the international community does
intervene, it should engage indigenous leaders (at all levels) to
develop productive political strategies and responsive, adaptive
governance systems with a special focus on local governance and
• Start small and get local indigenous elites on board. Moving slowly
does not mean putting off difficult and important changes, but rather
introducing reforms in a way that does not threaten communities yet
creates a process of self-sustaining change that makes democracy and
peace beneficial to indigenous leaders so that they have a stake in the
• Expand economic and political opportunities across the population.
Efforts to improve the economy should work to benefit all levels of
society. The economy’s success should be judged on the well-being of the
weakest citizens, pursuing several policies to spread political and
economic power while improving the lives of all citizens and preventing
• Demonstrate consistency. Rather than withdrawing as soon as is
feasible, the international community should do less for
longer—remaining involved as mediators and advisors to be called upon
when necessary. They should provide a security guarantee to protect
against neighbors threatening the indigenous country and to discourage
the indigenous country from spending money on external defense.
• Involve citizens in monitoring corruption from the beginning.
Community-monitoring programs should be utilized alongside external
observers’ analysis of likely problems to stem corruption. Preventative
measures will be far more effective than trying to root out corruption
once it has begun.
• Let the indigenous country lead and utilize existing modes of
governance and cultural endowments. Indigenous communities should be
relied upon to lead and inspire reconstruction efforts and to hold their
own government accountable.
All of this is a very delicate balancing act, as is all of postconflict
Even if the proposed model and all of the policy recommendations are
followed to the letter, postconflict reconstruction efforts will often
fail and efforts at democracy will languish or return to autocracy. Yet
the guidelines of encouraging small-scale, local governance and
indigenous ingenuity will likely lead to more successes than any
well-meaning institutional design devised and enforced by foreigners.
The realization that all politics (and governance) is local has largely
been absent from literature dealing with postwar or developing
countries. With flexibility, faith, and trust in indigenous communities,
governance and reconstruction will evolve and adapt to whatever
curveballs the future holds.
Published by World Report: The Student Journal for International Affairs
on Nov. 30, 2011, as one of six Featured Essays for the Autumn 2011