Conflict cycle practitioners will recognise the word ‘Stabilisation’ and inherently feel they know what it means, but defining the term conceptually is, perhaps, not quite so easy.
The term ‘Stabilisation’ is one of many in a new lexicon that has grown alongside post-conflict (and here I mean post-armed conflict) intervention but it is only recently that there has been much thought given to what it means and what it actually comprises.
But isn’t it obvious what Stabilisation is for? To bring stability. If one looks a bit further into how this is done, however, it reveals some rather difficult choices. Fundamentally, I would suggest, these choices are informed by the nature of the intervention. Is the intervening state doing so as a means of power projection to gain political control or is it solely a means to create mechanisms for conflict management that are not violent? Even if the latter, are the choices made consistent with local context and circumstances or are they based on an imposition of values and systems that relate to the intervening state’s interests and therefore in reality reflect the former.
What compromises should be made to effect the achievement of ‘stability’ and what is it that ‘stability’ comprises. Is it a balance of co-optive and coercive practices or a mediation between existing power elites? Is the aim to introduce systems that replicate those of the intervening state to bring routes to ‘justice’, ‘rule of law’ and so on. If so, who are the chosen ones who will implement it? And if the aim is to stop violence and introduce systems where violence free conflict management can be achieved, can this be done without political prejudice (and is that the aim)?
I am probably one of the first to post a comment, so I don’t know quite what is expected in terms of length or depth, but I will use this excuse to keep this first note brief and to the point.
Nothing in an intervention of this type is more than fuzzy grey when on the ground and directly before taking action. I am sure also that no-one expects absolute clarity of action within the intervention itself due to the frictions of implementation. But would it not be helpful to have clarity before the event to know what Stabilisation actually means in this context?
The debate has already begun in other fora, but would it be helpful to have a stream of thoughts here too?