The Perils of ‘Going Local’: Liberal Peace-building Agendas in Nepal

Journal article

Miklian, Jason; Kristoffer Lidén & Åshild Kolås (2011) The Perils of ‘Going Local’: Liberal Peace-building Agendas in Nepal, Conflict, Security & Development 11 (3): 285–308.

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Responding to recent critiques, foreign aid organisations are increasingly ‘going local’ in their operations in order to integrate local actors into their peace-building and aid projects. This is done under the belief that entering into partnerships directly with grassroots actors will increase local autonomy in joint ventures, thus empowering locals as agents of change both during and after the project period. But despite its normative and conceptual appeal, we argue that this model is not workable in practice and cannot be under the current structural conditions of the international aid environment. This is due to a fundamental disconnect between the conceptualisation and rationale of ‘going local’ and the structural and institutional frameworks within which ‘local ownership’ is supposed to be operationalised and implemented. This paper uses the example of Nepal to illustrate that this disconnect not only prevents foreign aid organisations from reaching their stated goals, but exacerbates the very problems that ‘going local’ is supposed to address.

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