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Enabling autocracy? Peacebuilding and post-conflict authoritarianism in the Democratic Republic of Congo

von Billerbeck, S. ORCID: and Tansey, O. (2019) Enabling autocracy? Peacebuilding and post-conflict authoritarianism in the Democratic Republic of Congo. European Journal of International Relations, 25 (3). pp. 698-722. ISSN 1460-3713

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1177/1354066118819724


Does peacebuilding shape the regime type of countries where international missions are deployed? Most peacebuilding missions take place in authoritarian contexts, and seek to overcome the legacies of conflict by overseeing transitions to democratic rule; however, most regimes that experience peacebuilding still retain some form of authoritarian rule. In this paper, we examine the extent to which international peacebuilding missions contribute to the consolidation of post-conflict authoritarian regimes even when their stated aims involve the promotion of democracy. We argue that international peacebuilders can act as enablers of authoritarianism in host countries. We distinguish this category of behavior from explicit ‘autocracy promotion,’ which implies intentional support to autocracy. Instead, enabling is often an unintended consequence, and we identify two mechanisms through which enabling occurs: by building the capacity of incumbent authoritarian leaders and by signaling a permissive environment for authoritarian behavior for national actors. We illustrate our argument with the case of the UN peacekeeping operation in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Politics, Economics and International Relations > Politics and International Relations
ID Code:72718
Uncontrolled Keywords:authoritarianism, peacekeeping, peacebuilding, DR Congo, United Nations, governance


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