Introduction: Security & Public Order & Peacebuilding Processes

The link between security and public order and peacebuilding

Security and public order are not parallel concepts in peacebuilding, rather they are both integral elements to peacebuilding. The concepts and policies associated with postwar peacebuilding from a security perspective have become broader, more sweeping and in more intrusive in recent years. The concept of peacebuilding now means not only keeping former combatants from going back to war, but also addressing the root causes of the conflict and fostering the transition from peace to development.

The effective provision of security and the maintenance of public order is one of the main requirements for sustainable peace and development. Post-conflict states are often confronted with a complex array of security challenges, many of which stem from the states loss of control over the legitimate use of force. If the population is threatened by unaccountable and poorly managed police, military forces, or intelligence units, if the state is undermined by armed non-state actors, if former combatants including child soldiers are not properly disarmed, demobilized and reintegrated, if the proliferation of illicit SALW is not controlled, and if legal regimes are not enforced, perpetrators not prosecuted, the building of peace will be elusive and the relapse into conflict almost unavoidable.1

The security situation is often precarious in post-conflict settings, with armed non-state actors still playing a role as potential spoilers of peace. Former combatants awaiting demobilization and reintegration programs, landmines restricting access to resources and limiting people's livelihoods, and state security apparatus undergoing reconstruction or being ill-prepared to provide security for the state and its population, create insecurity in fragile and contentious settings. In addition, the duration of a conflict, the level of violence and factionalism between groups, all shape how peacebuilding activities will play out. The basic provision of security needs to be maintained, confidence building measures reinforced, and the domestic capacity to provide security to citizens built up in post-conflict environments.

The needs and challenges to peacebuilding require a wider and deeper definition of security that not only encompass military issues, but also issues such as societal, economic, and environmental insecurity. When it comes to norms and standard setting concerning issues of security and public order (e.g. small arms and mine action), many of the subtopics exhibit strong global and regional dimensions.

1. Alan Bryden and Heiner Hnggi, Security Governance in Post-Conflict Peacebuilding, DCAF, 2005.

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