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Cautionary Tales: Soft Intervention and Civil Society

Cautionary Tales: Soft Intervention and Civil Society

Chapter:
(p.163) Eight Cautionary Tales: Soft Intervention and Civil Society
Source:
Strengthening Peace in Post-Civil War States
Author(s):
Michael W. Foley
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226351261.003.0008

No intervention, hard or soft, will succeed in bringing peace in civil conflicts without the cooperation of key domestic actors. This is the lesson of Iraq and Afghanistan under the American occupation, Sudan, and Congo today. It is also the lesson of Somalia, where civil conflict persists not despite but because of foreign interventions, both hard and soft. International efforts to bring peace must take into account the positions and capabilities of domestic actors. But which ones? This chapter examines three cases in which some scholarly attention has been paid to the role of civil society in peacemaking and enforcement. The situation facing civil society in each case differed from the situations in the others. In two of these, Northern Ireland and Bosnia, civil conflict revolved around communal identities; in El Salvador the conflict claimed the form of an elite-popular struggle. A close examination of these varying cases suggests the difficulties that civil society faces in contributing to peace implementation and the limits of such a role even in the most favorable instances. It also raises some cautions about where and how the international community might effectively intervene to support that role.

Keywords:   peacemaking, enforcement, civil war, Northern Ireland, Bosnia, El Salvador

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