Successful statebuilding? IBL

There is a fascinating chapter towards the end of  Roland Paris’s book At War’s End which talks about the Institutionalization Before Liberalization (IBL) peacebuilding strategy. Chapter 10 is particularly interesting because several of the elements are counter to what seems to be prevailing wisdom. It challenges common notions like “hold elections quickly, encourage free speech, privatize ASAP.”

To me this is a very productive and healthy dialog to have, especially given the mixed record of such policies in peacebuildling, as outlined in the cases cited in the book. It’s also of great interest to me that Singapore under Lee Kuan Yew embraced several (although clearly not all) of these ideas in successful economic development of Singapore, as described in From Third World to First.

Here are the main points of IBL as described by Paris, with my notes below.

1. Wait Until Conditions are Ripe for Elections

There’s often a rush to elections, but then the results aren’t meaningful because the process and buildup to the election has been under strained conditions.

2. Design Electoral Systems that Reward Moderation

There are certain ways of choosing a winner that require bipartisan support, so that a candidate can’t win by just playing up religious or racial differences.

3. Promote Good Civil Society

p. 195, counter to the idea of complete freedom to organize:
“Peacebuilders must also be prepared to shut down organizations that openly and repeatedly advocate violence against other groups in the society.”

4. Control Hate Speech

Total “freedom of the press” can be very harmful. Lee Kuan Yew has strenuously made this point in Singapore, and clearly in the early days it was important.

But in the case of a foreign intervention, who decides on what speech is allowed—the locals or the externals? One way is to have tight control at first, but then building up the local societal infrastructure to the point where they can regulate.

5. Adopt Conflict-Reducing Economic Policies

The classic policies have the effect of causing much pain to the common people, hurting small businesses, and leading to a consolidation of business interests in big hands. So in fact the “rich get richer,” further exacerbating the rich/poor divide.

In addition, “shock therapy” for an economy can be too shocking, and leave a lot of the “little people” bitter and out of work. Not a good start for a new way of doing things.

6. The Common Denominator: Rebuild Effective State Institutions

p. 205, counter to the idea of raw libertarianism:
“Democratic politics and capitalist economies are not self-organizing: they depend on public institutions to uphold basic rules, to maintain order, to resolve disputes impartially, and to regulate behavior incompatible with the preservation of market democracy itself.”

One response to “Successful statebuilding? IBL

  1. Pingback: Egypt: Democracy is interesting, but ownership is critical | The Ground View

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