Ownership in Theory and in Practice: Transfer of Authority in UN Statebuilding Operations
Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding, Vol. 1, No. 1, March 2007
24 Pages Posted: 13 Mar 2007
The language of 'ownership' is commonly used in statebuilding operations, but it is not clear that the term has either consistency or substance. It certainly does not have its literal meaning, in the sense of rights of possession either of property or a formal stake in an organization, such as shares in a corporation. Instead ownership tends to be used figuratively - much as 'buy-in' in this context usually does not suggest an actual financial transaction - to refer in a more vague way to the relationship between stakeholders, with meanings ranging from a sense of attachment to a programme or operation, to (rarely) actual controlling authority. This essay explores how ownership emerged as a shibboleth of the development community and how it has influenced UN statebuilding operations. The emphasis will be on rule of law institutions, but the critique of ownership applies to post-conflict operations more generally.
Keywords: development, ownership, post-conflict reconstruction, statebuilding, United Nations peace operations
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