Gradual, cooperative, coordinated: effective support for peace and democracy in conflict-affected states

Fiedler, Charlotte / Jörn Grävingholt / Julia Leininger / Karina Mross
External Publications (2020)

in: International Studies Perspectives 21 (1), 54-77


This article analyzes the success factors for external engagement aimed at fostering peace in conflict-affected states. It focuses on a set of three factors that have been under-researched so far: the strategic prioritization between stability and democracy, the degree of coordination, and the mode of interaction. We compare international engagement in six countries—Burundi, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Nepal, Senegal, and Timor-Leste. These countries all struggled with violent conflict and experienced a democratic transition in the period 2000–2014. We use an innovative approach to assess the impact of external engagement by analyzing twenty critical junctures in the domestic political processes of these countries mainly linked to elections, constitution-writing processes, and peace agreements, as well as disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration. Based on over 300 interviews, we find that prioritizing stability over democratization is problematic, good international coordination has positive effects, and preferring cooperative forms of interaction over coercion is mostly but not always useful. In discussing these general features of international support, this article contributes to the broader discussion of factors that explain the impact external actors can have on transformative political processes after conflict.

About the authors

Grävingholt, Jörn

Political Scientist


Leininger, Julia

Political Scientist


Fiedler, Charlotte

Political Scientist


Mross, Karina

Political Science


Further experts

Erforth, Benedikt

Political Science 

Furness, Mark

Political Science 

Kuhnt, Jana

Development Economist 

Lorch, Jasmin

Political Science 

Martin-Shields, Charles

Political Science 

Ruppel, Samantha

Political Science