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After the end of the Cold War the
achievement of sustainable peace in post conflict regions became a top priority
for the international community. Rising numbers of internal conflicts around
the world caused enormous loss of lives and threatened regional and global stability.
Concerns over the high percentage of civilian casualties, refugee movements and
the spillover effects of these regional frictions launched a new era of
interventionism in international relations. The efforts of preventing recurring
violence and creating the conditions for long lasting peace in the post
conflict regions became known as peacebuilding. However building lasting peace
in war torn societies proved to be a challenging task and many of the
peacebuilding operations led by global actors such as the United Nations (UN) have
failed to deliver the expected results. The main debates relating to
peacebuilding have evolved around the liberal democratic model, its invasive
nature, and the shortcomings of its implementation. As Chandler
argues, the two major flaws in peacebuilding are the biased conceptualization of
liberal peace and the flawed implementation of the liberal peacebuilding process.
following essay argues that these limitations are indeed true and that the model
of liberal peace is highly invasive. This argument will be made using empirical
evidence from the intervention in Cambodia and the main academic debates on
liberal peacebuilding. Cambodia is the first occasion where the UN officially
took over administration of an independent country for the creation of lasting peace
and thus constitutes a unique case study for exploring the problems with
peacebuilding. The analysis will first briefly defining the term, explaining the
liberal approach and the different gradations. It will then outline the main
criticisms and limitations of the process and then engage with the case study.

The term 
“peacebuilding” was first coined by Johan Galtung in his 1975 work “Three Approaches
to Peace: Peacekeeping, Peacemaking and Peacebuilding” in  which he argued that “peace
has a structure different from, perhaps over and above, peacekeeping and ad hoc
peacemaking… The mechanisms that peace is based on should be built into the
structure and be present as a reservoir for the system itself to draw up…
More specifically, structures must be found that remove causes of wars and
offer alternatives to war in situations where wars might occur.” The United Nations describes ‘ peacebuilding’ in a similar way by
defining it as an intervention that involves a range of measures targeted to
reduce the risk of relapsing into conflict by strengthening national  capacity at all levels for conflict
management, and to lay the foundations for sustainable peace and development.
In the aftermath of the Cold War and due to the predominance of the Western
ideology the most widely accepted way of conducting the peacebuilding process
became through the liberal peace framework. The framework combines the
establishment of democracy, development, rule of law and free markets (Mandelbaum, 2002: 6; Duffield, 2001: 11;
Paris, 2004). The main objectives
are self-sustaining peace in which violence is avoided by conforming to international
and western models of governance. The above liberal assumptions are consistent with
most policy documentations relating to peace and security (United Nations,2004). Liberal
peace has been favored in post conflict peacebuilding due to the assumption of
its unproblematic structure and universal applicability. It derives from four
main international theories namely the ‘victor’s peace’, ‘constitutional peace,’,
‘institutional peace’ and the ‘civil peace’. The ‘victor’s peace’ derives from
traditional realist theory of peace that depends on military superiority of a
victor and allows for his hegemony in international relations leading to
lasting stability and peace. The second theory of ‘constitutional peace’ was
directly influenced by philosopher Immanuel Kant and his liberal argument that
peace derives from democracy, free trade and internationally accepted notion
that humans are ends in themselves, rather than means to an end (Doyle, 1983).
The third theory known as ‘institutional peace’ has evolved from the
romanticized liberal-internationalist and liberal-institutionalist assumption that
states are able to multilaterally agree on the way in which to behave and how
to impose or establish that behavior. The last theory, that of the ‘civil peace’
rests upon the phenomena of citizens direct action and advocacy for the
establishment or protection of core values and human rights principles,
extending from the abolishment of slavery to the active participation of the
civil society in international relations today (Halliday,2001)  However the actual implementation of the
liberal model has been far from smooth (Paris,2004: 18).

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