Enabling and Constraining Ties: Network Effects on Peacebuilding Strategy-making

Oliver Westerwinter, European University Institute


In this paper I argue that approaching complex peacebuilding operations from a network perspective that devotes equal attention to the properties of network structures and agency enables us to develop a deeper understanding of these operations. In particular, it permits us to account for variations of peacebuilding strategy-making across different peacebuilding networks. By investigating the Afghanistan Compact, the Sierra Leone Peacebuilding Cooperation Framework, the Strategic Framework for Peacebuilding in the Central African Republic and the Strategic Framework for Peacebuilding in Guinea-Bissau, the paper provides first empirical illustrations for the usefulness of this network approach to complex peacebuilding. The analysis reveals that it is the combination of dense, decentralized, heterogeneous and connected network structures with individual leadership that facilitates the incorporation of a broad range of views into deliberations while at the same time urging actors to agree upon a limited set of peacebuilding goals that accounts for the adoption of peacebuilding strategies that reflect the interests and views of a range of states while at the same time being sufficiently prioritized to allow for a targeted employment of scarce resources.