PhD Thesis, St. Gallen: Univ. of St. Gallen
Can external democracy support foster sustained peace after civil war? This question has engaged researchers and policy makers alike. Research indicates that democratic regimes are most stable, yet also that democratization processes increase the risk of violence, in particular after conflict. The role democracy support plays in this context, remains unclear. Previous studies primarily investigated the effect of democracy support on democratization or the relationship between democratization and peace. Yet, democracy support has been integral to peacebuilding efforts by bi- and multilateral donors since the 1990s. My research sheds light on the role democracy support plays in building peace after civil war. To this end, it takes a comprehensive, yet disaggregated perspective.
Methodologically, it is the first to use Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) in the nexus between peace and democracy. Combining QCA with in-depth case studies, I find that democracy support can indeed contribute to sustained peace after civil war during post-conflict democratization processes. Importantly, my findings indicate that democracy support is not associated with renewed violence.
The research consists of three studies that are presented in related, but independent papers. It starts by taking a comprehensive view assessing the effect of democracy support in the context of broader peacebuilding efforts. The results show that democracy support can be an important alternative to security-focused support, and that only support that encompasses political, security and societal aspects can overcome a high risk of conflict recurrence. Building on these findings, the second paper takes a closer look at two alternative strategies proposed to deal with trade-offs when supporting peace and democracy after civil war. The analysis indicates that prioritizing stability over democracy is not more risk-averse than a gradualist approach pursuing both goals in parallel. In contrast, the latter strategy bears considerable potential to strengthen peace sustainably. The third study zooms in further to assess more specifically which aspects of democracy support are conducive to peace. Focusing on external support addressing peace-enhancing and conflict-igniting aspects of democratization, it finds that supporting political competition and institutional constraints can mitigate the destabilizing effects of democratization after civil war.