Peacebuilding and Political Order in Post-Conflict Societies



Naazneen H. Barma, Naval Postgraduate School

Date and Time

May 31, 2018 3:30 PM - 5:00 PM


Open to the public.

No RSVP required


William J. Perry Conference Room, Encina Hall, 2nd Floor, 616 Serra St, Stanford, CA 94305

Abstract: The conventional international approach to post-conflict intervention has fallen short of expectations despite the enormous resources devoted to the endeavor. In this talk, Naazneen H. Barma will offer her original analysis of the underlying problem, arguing that while international peacebuilders aim to build effective and legitimate government, post-conflict elites co-opt process-focused interventions to serve their own very different political ends. She will present the core findings of her book, The Peacebuilding Puzzle, which develops a historical institutionalist approach to understanding peacebuilding. Through a comparative analysis of UN peace operations in Cambodia, East Timor, and Afghanistan, she will illustrate how competing international and domestic visions of post-conflict political order shape outcomes at three critical peacebuilding phases: the peace settlement; the transformative peace operation; and the aftermath of intervention. The central implication emerging from this study is that international peacebuilders must abandon the notion that post-conflict institutions can be designed and transplanted in whole cloth. Barma will conclude the talk with suggestions for a more incremental and adaptive approach to better achieve robust political order in post-conflict countries.

Speaker bio: Naazneen H. Barma is Associate Professor of National Security Affairs at the Naval Postgraduate School. Her research and teaching focus on peacebuilding and political order, the political economy of development, and natural resource governance, with a regional specialization in East Asia and the Pacific. Her most recent book, The Peacebuilding Puzzle (Cambridge University Press 2017), argues that international peace operations fall short of achieving the modern political order sought in post-conflict countries because the interventions empower domestic elites to attain their own political ends. Barma received her PhD and MA in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley, and her MA in International Policy Studies and BA in International Relations and Economics from Stanford University. From 2007–2010, she was a Young Professional and Public Sector Specialist at the World Bank, where she conducted political economy analysis and worked on operational dimensions of governance and institutional reform in the East Asia Pacific Region. Barma is a founding member and co-director of Bridging the Gap, an initiative devoted to enhancing the policy impact of contemporary international affairs scholarship.