In cooperation, Friedrich Ebert Foundation and the London School of Economics have implemented a study project that explores from both a top down and a bottom up perspective, the norm of local ownership and the challenges of promoting it in the context of international peacebuilding. Within the study three cases of late-stage intervention emerged: Bosnia, Kosovo and Afghanistan. The research findings reveal the need to re-think local ownership within international peace building, both in theory and in practice. It underlines the need for a more rigorous concept of local ownership that takes account of grass root perceptions and expectations of peacebuilding, and which constructs an effective relationship between local and external actors.
International peace- and statebuilding is seen as one of the key features of global security in the 21st century. However, successful peacebuilding is mitigated by the fact that the exit from conflict has been shown to be fragile and reversible. Sustainable peace which allows populations in conflict affected societies to rebuild their lives, and external assistance to withdraw, remains an elusive goal.
How should ownership be built into international peace operations in order to provide a satisfactory exit from conflict for both local and external actors? While the claim for local ownership is turning more and more into a political mantra the concept remains poorly defined, and indeed operationally problematic.