Post-Conflict Governance

Human Trafficking, Human Security and the Balkans


Friman, H. Richard, and Simon Reich, eds. 2007. Human Trafficking, Human Security and the Balkans. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press. 

Authors: H. Richard Friman, Simon Reich


In the aftermath of four Yugoslav wars, ongoing efforts at reconstruction in South Eastern Europe have devoted relatively limited attention to dimensions of human security that enhance protections for the region's most vulnerable populations in their daily lives. It is in this context that South Eastern Europe, and especially the Western Balkan region, has emerged as a nexus point in human trafficking.

Human Trafficking, Human Security, and the Balkans brings together leading scholars, NGO representatives, and government officials to analyze and offer solutions to this challenge. The contributors explore the economic dynamics of human trafficking in an era of globalization, which has greatly facilitated not only the flow of goods and services but also the trade in human beings. They also examine the effectiveness of international and transnational policies and practice, the impact of peacekeeping forces, and the emergence of national and regional action plans in the Western Balkans and, more broadly, in South Eastern Europe. Finally, they consider the nature and ramifications of the gap between human security rhetoric and institutional policy steps against human trafficking. 

Keywords: ethnic conflict, shadow economies, human trafficking, security

Topics: Democracy / Democratization, Economies, Governance, Post-Conflict Governance, International Law, Justice, Security, Human Security, Trafficking, Human Trafficking Regions: Europe, Balkans, Eastern Europe

Year: 2007

Strategies for Change: Women & Politics in Eritrea & South Africa


Connell, Dan. 1998. "Strategies for Change: Women & Politics in Eritrea & South Africa." Review of African Political Economy 25: 189-206.

Author: Dan Connell


This article examines the position of women in the process of democratisation in Eritrea and South Africa. It examines the difficulties in translating declared government and policy document support for gender issues into implemented strategy. It does so by tracing the position of women in the different movements, the problems which women have confronted in political and economic reconstruction and the political struggles which women have engaged in to ensure that gender issues remain at the core of democratic politics.

Keywords: autonomy, democracy, nation-building, post-conflict, reconstruction, women's organizations

Topics: Democracy / Democratization, Gender, Women, Governance, Post-Conflict Governance, Political Participation, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction, Rights, Women's Rights Regions: Africa, East Africa, Southern Africa Countries: Eritrea, South Africa

Year: 1998

Women's Organizations During and After War: From Service Delivery to Policy Advocacy


McNulty, Susan. 1998. Women's Organizations During and After War: From Service Delivery to Policy Advocacy. Washington, DC: Center for Development Information and Evaluation, US Agency for International Aid.

Author: Susan McNulty


The recent increase in the number of conflicts and their changing nature has led more women to suffer from and participate in war. Women take up arms to combat oppressive regimes, suffer from rape used as a weapon of war, and adopt new responsibilities due to the absence of men in their homes and communities. Many women form organizations to address their needs, thereby revitalizing civil society. USAID, in an effort to promote post-war reconstruction through service delivery, a politically active civil society, and sustainable democratic reforms, frequently works with women’s organizations that seek to empower and serve those citizens who are among the most vulnerable.

Support for women’s organizations during and after war is derived from two USAID strategic goals: humanitarian assistance and democracy and governance. Support for women’s organizations also relates to USAID’s policy of promoting women in development (WID). According to a 1984 USAID WID policy paper, USAID affirms that “gender roles constitute a key variable in the socio-economic condition of any country and can be decisive in the success or failure of development plans” (Internet WID Policy Paper 1984, 1).

This paper provides background information for a USAID evaluation series assessing the role of women in post-conflict situations. Two central research questions drive this paper. First, what role do women’s organizations play in war-torn societies? Second, how does support for women’s organizations during and after war contribute to USAID’s goals? While more research is needed in order to answer both questions, academic and donor literatures provide some preliminary observations and conclusions.

The paper is organized as follows: 1) a discussion of recent trends of war; 2) a conceptual framework drawn from findings in developing countries and war-torn societies; 3) examples of organizational efforts to address women’s needs during and after conflict; and 4) a discussion of how support for women’s organizations fits into USAID’s Strategic Framework. A bibliography and an annex of terms that are frequently used in this paper follow the conclusion.


  • Four groups of war-affected women most vulnerable during post-conflict discussions: refugees, internally displaced persons, female heads of households, and ex-combatants. The role of women’s organizations in developing countries: self-help or service provision, empowerment, democratization.

  • Women’s organizations serve several functions in democratization processes: strengthening grassroots organizational capacity and the democratic culture at the microlevel during war or after the war, instigating a transition to peaceful democracy, providing a means of collective action to advocate for women’s rights during and after war, increasing women’s participation in political process.

  • However, women’s organizations face a number of challenges in conflictive societies...women have little time for political activism due to their double and triple duties; women suffer from the lack of financial and political experiences; premier democratic institutions are predominately male dominated; women’s organizations tend to seek distance from the state thereby limiting their involvement; and differences among women make it hard to set a broad agenda.

  • Women’s involvement in peace efforts tends to be located at the grassroots. Women’s peace activism does not always translate into involvement in peace negotiations or women’s formal inclusion in the transition process.


Topics: Civil Society, Combatants, Female Combatants, Development, Displacement & Migration, Economies, Governance, Post-Conflict Governance, Humanitarian Assistance, International Organizations, NGOs, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction, Rights, Women's Rights

Year: 1998

Between the Hammer and the Anvil: Post-Conflict Reconstruction, Islam and Women's Rights


Kandiyoti, Deniz. 2007. "Between the Hammer and the Anvil: Post-Conflict Reconstruction, Islam and Women's Rights." Third World Quarterly 28 (3): 503-17.

Author: Deniz Kandiyoti


This paper argues that gender issues are becoming politicized in novel and counterproductive ways in contexts where armed interventions usher in new blueprints for governance and 'democratization'. Using illustrations from constitutional and electoral processes in Afghanistan and Iraq, it analyses how the nature of emerging political settlements in environments of high risk and insecurity may jeopardize stated international commitments to a women's rights agenda. The disjuncture between stated aims and observed outcomes becomes particularly acute in contexts where security and the rule of law are severely compromised, where Islam becomes a stake in power struggles among contending factions and where ethnic/sectarian constituencies struggles of representation in defense of their collective rights.

Keywords: post-conflict reconstruction, women's political participation, governance, Islam, women's rights


  • Since the September 11 attacks and the US’ subsequent invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan, there have been various political efforts to incorporate women’s rights into the reconstruction agendas of Iraq and Afghanistan; however, in the absence of stable government systems, the realization of these rights has been difficult. In Afghanistan, a new Constitution was drafted in 2004 that advocated the political representation of women. These efforts at gender equality have been undermined, however, by documents such as Article 3 of the Constitution entitled “Islam and Constitutionality,” which demands that all governmental laws abide by the laws of Islam.
  • In Iraq, the situation of women deteriorated in the years following the 1980-88 Iran-Iran War and the subsequent invasion of Kuwait. Following the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003, the country underwent a process of Islamization, which delegitimized the efforts of various Iraqi women’s rights groups. Sectarian strife also poses a barrier to the inclusion of women in the political processes in both Afghanistan and Iraq. In Afghanistan, women generally affiliate themselves with ethnic and political constituencies, which divides them from one another, preventing them from uniting for a common women’s rights cause. In Iraq, despite the quota promoting women’s participation in politics, most women identify as Shiites, the more conservative of Islam’s factions. Kandiyoti also argues that compounded with the conservative Muslim religion, the war economies of Iraq and Afghanistan have exacerbated gender-based violence.
  • Kandiyoti proceeds to address the reasons for violations of women’s rights in Afghanistan, attributing the poor situation of women to a combination of poverty, displacement, and the drug economy. During the civil war following the emergence of the Taliban in 1994, human rights violations, including crimes against women, were rampant. The Taliban imposed laws the limited the freedoms of women, including a conservative dress code and a curfew. Because of the poverty that defined the post-conflict period in Afghanistan, many men resorted to female trafficking as a source of income and sexual violence as an outlet for economic-related stress.
  • Kandiyoti concludes by stressing that the women’s rights agenda that accompanies post-conflict reconstruction efforts faces major hurdles. Prolonged conflict has also brought about social changes in Afghanistan and Iraq that force women to combat the threat from conservative social forces while also fighting for their rights.

Topics: Democracy / Democratization, Gender, Women, Governance, Constitutions, Elections, Post-Conflict Governance, Peacebuilding, Peacekeeping, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction, Religion, Rights, Women's Rights Regions: Africa, MENA, Asia, South Asia Countries: Afghanistan, Iraq

Year: 2007

Reconstructing Gender: Iraqi Women Between Dictatorship, War, Sanctions and Occupation


Al-Ali, Nadje. 2005. "Reconstructing Gender: Iraqi Women Between Dictatorship, War, Sanctions and Occupation." Third World Quarterly 26 (4-5): 739-58.

Author: Nadje Al-Ali


This article explores the role of Iraqi women in reconstruction processes by contextualizing the current situation with respect to changing gender ideologies and relations over the past three decades. Before discussing the Iraqi case specifically, I provide a brief theoretical background about the significance of gender in reconstruction as well as nation-building processes. A historical background aims to shed light on the changing gender ideologies and relations during the regime of Saddam Hussein. The article focuses particularly on the impacts of the early developmental-modernist discourses of the state and the impacts of war (Iran-Iraq war 1980-88, Gulf wars 1991, 2003) as well as on the comprehensive economic sanctions regime (1990-2003). The latter involved wider social changes affecting women and gender relations but also society at large because of the impoverishment of the well educated middle- class, wide-scale unemployment, an economic crisis and a shift towards more conservative values and morals. It is against this historical background that contemporary developments related to ongoing conflict, occupation and political transition affect women and gender relations.

Keywords: post-conflict reconstruction, S1325, women's political participation, governance, nation-building, reconstruction, economics, political transition


Al-Ali begins by calling attention to the struggles that Iraqi women have faced in spite of the country’s recent process of democratization. While UN Resolution 1325 calls for the incorporation of gender concerns into the reconstruction process, foreign occupation and the unstable interim government (as of 2005, when this article was written) have prevented the internalization of gender-conscious values among the Iraqi populace. In her article, Al-Ali first explores the significant of gender in the reconstruction process and then turns to post-war Iraq as a case study.

In her section on gender and post-conflict periods, Al-Ali explains that post-war situations often elicit violence against women. In post-war Iraq, for example, the levels of violence (particularly against women) were actually greater following the period of militarized conflict. When violence is no longer institutionalized, women lack the political space to challenge gender relations that they had during wartime; thus, the safety and well-being of women is often ignored in the post-conflict period. Al-Ali proceeds to explain how women have been excluded from post-conflict reconstruction processes. While women strive to make their voices heard through engagement with NGOs, these organizations are often discounted by male-dominated society. SCR 1325 is also ignored in many Muslim societies, as it is viewed as an imposition of Western culture and values, especially in US-occupied Iraq.

Al-Ali provides a historical context through which to analyze the situation of Iraqi women before the 1990s. She explains that early Baathist policies in the 1970s fostered women’s rights as part of the regime’s effort for national indoctrination, and as men went off to fight during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq War, women took over their positions in the workforce. The economic sanctions imposed on Iraqi society in the 1990s, however, adversely affected women, as it led to a breakdown of the welfare state and pushed women back into their traditional roles as mothers and housewives.

The war has had a drastic impact on gender roles within the household in ways that are detrimental to women. The economic and political issues that have resulted from the war have strained relationships between husbands and wives, leading to increased divorce rates and levels of domestic abuse against women. Due to the high fatality levels among male soldiers, women left without husbands have been forced to run female-headed households, which has presented women with degrees of responsibility with which they often cannot cope.

The increased levels of religiosity in post-war Iraq have also contributed to a culture that puts social limitations on women. Girls have become increasingly worried about their reputation, and the number of honor killings has increased since the start of the war. Additionally, economic hardships have forced women into prostitution, which has led to greater incentives to impose conservative regulations on women’s behavior.

In regard to women’s political participation in the post-war period, Al-Ali explains that the number of women’s organizations has been increasing since 2003, and women have become mobilized around the issues of replacing the personal status law with a more conservative law, as well as the issue of drafting a quota for women’s representation in political office. Recently, however, women’s organizations have been hindered by the country’s severe security situation, which has prevented women from leaving their houses and running for elections in 2005. Gender-specific threats and violence have posed a particular barrier to gender equality in Iraq, according to Human Rights Watch.

Ultimately, Al-Ali presents a bleak picture of the ways in which war, sanctions, and occupation have negatively impacted Iraqi women. Her vision of the future is no less pessimistic; she doubts whether the women’s political representation quota of 25% will be fulfilled, and she points to the worsening humanitarian situation for women in particular. In order to improve the situation for Iraqi women, she advocates  the mainstreaming of gender into all aspects of post-conflict reconstruction, which would involve the incorporation of women into government as well as economic and judiciary processes. Because she attributes the failure of gender equality largely to its association with Western values, she writes that rather than encourage a feminist approach to reconstruction, emphases should be placed on education and other areas that would necessarily improve the status of women.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Economies, Poverty, Education, Gender, Women, Gender Roles, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equity, Governance, Post-Conflict Governance, Households, Justice, Transitional Justice, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Political Participation, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction, Religion, Rights, Women's Rights Regions: MENA, Asia, Middle East Countries: Iraq

Year: 2005


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