Peacebuilding and Human Security: A Constructivist Perspective


Conteh-Morgan, Earl. 2005. “Peacebuilding and Human Security: A Constructivist Perspective.” International Journal of Peace Studies 10 (1): 69–86.

Author: Earl Conteh-Morgan


In order to guarantee human security at the personal, institutional, and structural-cultural levels, power relations and relations of power should be underscored within a socio-cultural context. In others words questions like the following, among many others, should be thoroughly analyzed: 1. What is the underlying structure of privilege to the formation and conduct of domestic politics? 2. How is daily life affected by the historical constructions of race, gender, class and culture, and their impact on individuals, institutions, and structures? 3. What effect do the construction and reproduction of exploitative class/power elite identities have on the theory and practice of peacebuilding and human security? In other words emancipation or sustainable peacebuilding occurs when one understands the true nature of things- class, gender, racial equality, etc. A great deal of peacebuilding deals with issues of security within a positivist-rational epistemology. Culture and identity and interpretive bottom-up approach to peacebuilding are crucial for understanding human security of marginalized individuals, groups, and communities. Human security is a situation/condition of injury/threat to an individual's, group's, or community's well-being, including freedom from direct attacks on physical and psychological integrity. To ensure such security involves the understanding of, or elimination of human insecurity located at the structural, institutional, and personal levels of society. It involves an attempt to understand human security/insecurity in terms of those who experience them. What motivates the dissatisfied to agitate, as well as their beliefs as marginalized individuals should be seriously taken into account, instead of merely imposing on them. In sum, the material as well as the socio-cultural context should be considered a critical factor to human security and peacebuilding. Peacebuilding with a view to alleviating human insecurity involves transforming the social and political environment that fosters intolerable inequality, engenders historical grievances, and nurtures adversarial interactions. This may mean the development of social, political, and economic infrastructures that produce tolerable inequality and/or prevent future violence. In other words, the focus is on dismantling structures that contribute to conflict- in particular moving beyond short-term functions of maintaining a ceasefire, demobilization and disarmament, and monitoring competitive elections among former adversaries. The main objective of the analysis is to apply these peacebuilding criteria to a specific case of postwar reconstruction such as Sierra Leone, Angola, and the like.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Class, Gender, Peacebuilding, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction, Race, Security, Human Security

Year: 2005

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