Democracy and governance interventions in post-conflict states: What works?



The most successful democracy support in post-conflict states features quick and sustainable benefits, local ownership of projects and interventions that permanently changed rules, practices and perceptions, according to a new analysis from the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES).

But approaches must be customized to local circumstances as similar interventions generate different outcomes in different countries or even within the same country at different times or with different partners, adds the report, Increasing the Success and Sustainability of Democracy and Governance Interventions in Post-conflict Countries: Analyzing Literature Findings and Partner Perspectives. It highlights the views of partners receiving assistance from the Consortium for Elections and Political Process Strengthening (CEPPS) to support democratization and stabilization in post-conflict environments and analyzes the success and sustainability of these interventions.


Interventions that drew more praise from partners and whose gains are still seen and felt were those for which ownership was quickly transferred to partners; those that were relatively easy or affordable to maintain; and those that permanently changed rules, practices and perceptions, note the report’s authors, Fernanda Buril [a former NED Penn Kemble fellow] and Bailey Dinman of the IFES Center for Applied Research and Learning:

The overall findings, and the diverse paths different activities have taken in the countries analyzed here, highlight the importance of understanding the specific opportunities and challenges in each environment. As our examples show, similar interventions have led to different outcomes in different countries and sometimes even within the same country at a different time or with different partners and stakeholders. Some intrinsic features of interventions do seem to make them more or less likely to succeed. However, the ultimate success and potential to produce sustainable outcomes seem to be related to its fit within specific context (including the political, economic and security circumstances).

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