Contested Inclusions: Pitfalls of NGO Peace-Building Activities in Liberia

Veronika Fuest

Abstract


In post-war situations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) feature highly in peace-building processes in their (perceived) capacities as both representatives of civil society and as grassroots agents to be employed in the reconstruction and transformation of society. As elsewhere, in Liberia, peace-building approaches include, first, international blueprints of representation that intend to empower groups generally perceived to be socially subordinate and, second, supporting traditional institutions considered social capital in reconciliation. Using the example of Liberia, this paper explores how in local conflict arenas, NGO workshops – the most popular mode of participatory intervention – are interpreted and appropriated by local actors; it highlights some fallacies and unintended consequences of inclusive procedures in practice and questions the support furnished to heads of gendered secret societies.

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