Support to democratization efforts in post-conflict countries requires a delicate approach between long term goals (democracy) and short term needs (peace and stability).
When it comes to support democratization efforts in the wake of civil war, a key dilemma arises which cannot be ignored by the international donor community, argues Lotte Ten Hoove of NIMD.
Ten Hoove spoke on behalf of NIMD at an international seminar about democratization in post conflict societies on 22 May 2008. “How can we simultaneously advance peace AND democracy, even though there is an inherent tension between the two?“ Effort to promote peace – in the sense of security and stability – may sometimes compromise the values of democracy. Democracy in turn – with pluralism and competitive party politics – can have destabilizing effect.
This dilemma requires a delicate approach by all stakeholders. When it comes to assistance to political parties, as NIMD is doing, this dilemma is even clearer. At the conference, co-organized by NIMD, Clingendael and the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ten Hoove presented NIMD’s approach and explained the different policy choices for Afghanistan, Burundi where NIMD will start democracy support programmes in the near future.
Every post conflict society has its own characteristics which will influence the possibilities of democracy support, but in all post conflict societies three key questions need to be considered:
1. inclusion versus exclusion of former warring factions
2. local ownership of the democratic process versus international pressure and interference
3. short term versus long term objectives
“The long-term democratic objective should always be balanced with the short term objectives of peace and security. This is not a matter of choice but a matter of well-considered timing, prioritization and coordination.”