Democracy Support and Peaceful Democratisation after Civil War

Karina Mross
Content Type
Policy Brief
German Development Institute (DIE)
Evidence exists that democracies are particularly stable, yet also that processes of democratisation are highly susceptible to conflict, especially if democratisation occurs in the aftermath of violent conflict. New research from the German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE) indicates that external democracy support can help mitigate the destabilising effects of post-conflict democratisation. Since the 1990s, democracy support has been integral to most peacebuilding efforts. Supporting free and fair elections or a vibrant media seems well-suited for fostering peace: Democratic institutions can actively deal with societal conflicts, in sharp contrast to authoritarian regimes, which often rely on repression. However, altering power relations through more political competition can also trigger power struggles, which newly emerging democratic institutions may have difficulty containing. Therefore, questions arise regarding countries that have embarked on a process of democratisation after civil war: Can democracy support help to mitigate destabilising effects, or does it reinforce them? If it can foster peace, how should it be designed in order to avoid renewed violence? The wisdom or folly of supporting democracy to build peace after civil war has caused controversy, yet has rarely been tested empirically. This briefing paper summarises findings from DIE research that addresses this gap.
Civil War, Democratization, Conflict, Institutions, Peace
Political Geography
Germany, Global Focus