n African Journal on Conflict Resolution - Integrated development planning in South Africa : lessons for international peacebuilding?

Volume 7, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1562-6997


South Africa is a post-conflict society unlike many others: its transition from conflict to peace during the 1990s was marked by unrivalled levels of political and social reconciliation; and, during this critical time, government institutions were quickly transformed to promote 'true' development and democracy. Unfortunately, the same picture cannot be painted of other African states emerging from conflict. Indeed, a number of challenges have caused, and keep on causing, several post-conflict countries in Africa (and elsewhere) to slide back into violent conflict. One key challenge often cited by policymakers and academics alike is the lack of coordination between the world's major peacebuilding actors. The United Nations Peacebuilding Commission, unveiled in 2005, was specifically established to address this problem. In essence, the Commission's key organisational function will be to reduce the inherent complexity of the UN peacebuilding architecture and move towards a single, more 'integrated' post-conflict development planning process. But despite its laudable aims, the founding resolutions establishing the Peacebuilding Commission are imprecise as to exactly how the body will function and what it will be able to deliver. This uncertainty is based, in part, on the fact that the United Nations still lacks an integrated system of planning for peacebuilding. Among several encouraging methodologies, this paper proposes that South Africa's self-styled 'integrated development planning' approach, implemented after 1994 to overcome Apartheid's violent history, deserves closer scrutiny by international peacebuilding experts. This is because South Africa's approach to development - although not perfect - is centred on integrated governance and has, to some extent, played an important role in accelerating service delivery in previously disadvantaged and conflicting communities. The paper argues, therefore, that South Africa's post-Apartheid development project may reveal some important lessons for the design of integrated peacebuilding strategies in countries emerging from conflict, as the Peacebuilding Commission intends to do. Development initiatives must meet...people's problems as they perceive them, not as distant policymakers imagine them - Andrew Natsios

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