Liberal peacebuilding and local ownership: a case study of post-civil war Mozambique

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The concept of local ownership and participation emerged as contextually sensitised responses to the criticisms of the liberal peace approach to issues of local legitimacy and the need for context specific peace building solutions. Given that local ownership is often viewed as an afterthought by foreign actors, it continues to be an elusive concept that is widely considered to be a necessary ingredient for durable peace; yet the very same concept has gained wide ranging criticism due to the manner in which it still relies on fundamental liberal concepts. Through a qualitative enquiry, this study explored the dilemma of the two concepts by placing it within the post-Civil War Mozambique context. There appears to be little consensus on the subject due to the role the United Nations Operation in Mozambique (UNOMOZ) played in ending hostilities and ensuring the first multi-party elections. Thus, the mission is regarded as having been successful in those areas by garnering an acceptable level of local buy-in due to the peaceful nature of the first elections and the relative peace that the country has maintained since the UNOMOZ exit. Thus in terms of the research question, it is clear that Mozambique highlights the complexity of the liberal peacebuilding and local ownership debate, thus requiring a nuanced approach where both concepts are approached with a high level of objectivity. The study found that UNOMOZ can be said to have been successful in its ability to secure peace and cultivate equitable governance structures, even though they were isolated to a specific elite. However when taking the local ownership dimension of the debate, UNOMOZ’s limited mandate and time constraints rendered it to be a process that entered the country with a cultural blind spot which by design excluded locals and eventually rendered them as essentially disempowered pawns in the reproduction of power structures that continue to limit wide spread, equitable civic participation.
A dissertation submitted in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Management in Security to the Faculty of Commerce, Law and Management, Wits Business School, University of the Witwatersrand, 2022
Liberation Front of Mozambique or Mozambican Liberation Front, Peace Building and Reconstruction, LIBERAL PEACEBUILDING AND LOCAL OWNERSHIP, POST-CIVIL WAR, MOZAMBIQUE