Diana Felix da Costa

Contextualising Liberal Peacebuilding for Local Circumstances: Unmiss and Local Peacebuilding in South Sudan

Journal of Peacebuilding & Development


In recent literature on international peacekeeping and peacebuilding interventions, attention has been drawn increasingly to local-level dynamics and the reciprocal relationships with national conflict dynamics. This article places local social structures and networks at the centre of analysis and action, while unpacking the category of the ‘external actor’. Through a case study of UN civilian peacekeeping support to local peacebuilding in South Sudan, it argues that there are important efforts being made to contextualise peacebuilding activities for local circumstances, notwithstanding significant institutional obstacles limiting the impact of these efforts. It also argues for further empirical scrutiny of if and how international peacebuilders are engaging with the local dynamics of conflict, seeking to improve the understanding of the heterogeneity of and interaction between actors at these levels.