Legitimacy and peace processes: from coercion to consent
Publication date: 
2014
Accord issue: 
25
Author: 

Ken Menkhaus asks how viable it is to mobilise the legitimacy of local leadership for peace. Legitimate representation is difficult to identify in talks to end violent conflict that can include a proliferation of armed groups, severe social and political fragmentation, or communal or criminal violence. Local governance and leadership is not a panacea – and can encompass warlords, vigilante justice or thinly veiled political platforms. Nevertheless, there are many examples of sub-national governance arrangements emerging or enduring in the most lawless and violent environments to provide basic protection and order, structured dispute resolution, and mediation with local militia or inter-communal settlements. Local civil leadership can often make a convincing claim to a seat at national peace talks, through its proximity to local events and communities.