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The peacebuilders: Making conflict resolution permanent

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"Everybody understands peacemaking," says Judy Cheng-Hopkins, the UN assistant secretary-general for peacebuilding. "And in a way we also understanding peacekeeping.... Peacebuilding goes beyond either [of these]."

Peacebuilding is about what comes next – the slow and thankless slog of building a country back up. For generations, that job has been piecemeal: a little emergency aid here, some development projects there. But those professionals are trained differently, rarely coordinate, and are sometimes outright antagonistic. Their projects, meanwhile, are not overtly about peace. Aid is about relief; development is about economic growth. But post-conflict states also have a host of other needs.

Ex-soldiers need to feel productive and engaged as civilians, or they cause trouble. Returning refugees need a legal process for lodging complaints when they find their old homesteads occupied. Courts need competent judges and lawyers; armies need barracks; police need jail cells. Often, these countries need all these things, and all at once.

None of these needs is especially surprising. "There is this sense that everyone knows what we're talking about. We're talking about a specific set of challenges in a specific set of circumstances," says Vanessa Wyeth, coeditor of "Building States to Build Peace." "They're based on a lot of experience but not a lot of specific evidence about things that we know can help support peace."

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