Enabling Autocracy? Peacebuilding and Post-Conflict Authoritarianism in the DR Congo


14 November 2018


Egmont Institute, 1000 Brussels

Africa Lunch Meeting with Dr. Sarah von Billerbeck, Lecturer in Politics and International Relations at the University of Reading. Most peacebuilding missions take place in authoritarian contexts and seek to overcome the legacies of conflict by overseeing transitions to democratic rule. However, most regimes that experience peacebuilding still retain some form of authoritarian rule. In her presentation, Dr. von Billerbeck will discuss the extent to which international peacebuilding missions can contribute to the consolidation of post-conflict authoritarian regimes even when their stated aims involve the promotion of democracy. She will show how international peacebuilders can (unintentionally) act as enablers of authoritarian rule in host countries by building the capacity of incumbent authoritarian leaders and by expanding the opportunity structures for authoritarian behavior for national actors. This will be illustrated with the case of the UN peacekeeping operation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, showing how the mission did not explicitly promote authoritarianism, but contributed to the regime’s institutional and security capacity and created a permissive environment, thus lowering the costs of authoritarian behavior.

(Photo credit: by MONUSCO, Flickr)