Benjamin Reilly

Political Parties and Post-Conflict Peacebuilding

Civil Wars, 15, 2013, 88-104

As key agents of conflict management, political parties should play a critical role in peacebuilding. But despite a widespread consensus on the importance of parties for both political and economic development, international interventions in post-conflict states often have the effect of undermining, rather than promoting, the development of strong parties and stable party systems. While both the scholarly literature and much domestic political practice favour the development of aggregative and nationally focused parties, international post-conflict peacebuilding efforts – particularly cases where the United Nations is involved – often privilege descriptive representation and inclusion over other goals, resulting in fragmented and ethnically based party systems. This neglect of systemic party-building has contributed to extreme political sclerosis in recent high-profile international interventions such as Afghanistan, Iraq and Nepal, amongst others.