Today most armed conflicts occur within states and not between them. These conflicts are more difficult to solve than international conflicts and often reoccur. What factors can help prevent warring parties from reverting to violence and instead create a sustainable peace? Does sustainable peace require support from the “outside”? Or is it most likely to succeed when driven from the “inside”? What lessons can other countries emerging from civil wars learn from successful cases of post-war peacebuilding? These are the broad questions that this research project investigates within the context of Mozambique – a country often portrayed as a “post-conflict success story” by the international community.
Drawing from process tracing, original archive work, interviews and secondary sources, this paper offers several theoretical and empirical insights that advance the current state of peacebuilding literature on Mozambique. Whereas previous research emphasised that Mozambique’s peacebuilding trajectory has been a success based on the end of the Cold War, drought, military stalemate, luck, and heavy external intervention, this paper finds that Mozambique’s relative peace and stability since 1992 is largely due to three complementary factors: (i) local participation in and ownership of the peace process; (ii) an inclusive political settlement; and, (iii) credible and impartial international support through the United Nations. The paper focuses on the last finding. Key components of the United Nations and the broader international community success in negotiating peace and creating conditions for political stability and democracy in Mozambique were (i) the provision of demobilisation before democratisation, (ii) decentralisation of humanitarian and relief efforts to provincial and district levels, (iii) financial support directly for the development of political parties, and (iv) budget support to sectors relevant to peacebuilding. Though imperfect, Mozambique remains an important case study in how the UN and international community can help in post-conflict environments. While concerns remain over Mozambique’s peacebuilding consolidation, efforts to build resilience have improved. Overall, the research findings are significant beyond the Mozambique’s case as they provide insights for understanding how and when the international community under the auspices of the United Nations, and in partnership with local actors, is best suited to contribute to sustainable peace in countries emerging from civil wars.
Keywords: Civil war. Peacebuilding. United Nations. Mozambique.