Borderlands and peacebuilding: a view from the margins
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Insight 4

Cultural norms and belief systems are inseparable from notions of place, space and territory, and frequently border regions are at the nexus of clashing or incommensurate world views and belief systems.

Jonathan Goodhand and Patrick Meehan, Accord Insight Editors


This fourth Accord Insight publication looks at peacebuilding in borderland regions and how peace and transition processes address the interests of borderland communities.

A ‘borderlands lens’ challenges key assumptions in current peacebuilding policy and practice: that power and order radiate outwards from the centre; that border zones are resistant to being incorporated into national peacebuilding and statebuilding projects because of a lack of security, development or governance infrastructure and that more development and greater state presence are, therefore, logical solutions to borderlands conflict.

Borderlands can be contested spaces that become havens for resistance movements and where non-state actors clash with state institutions.

Sharri Plonski and Oliver Walton, Accord Insight Editors


The publication looks at seven case studies of peacebuilding in borderlands: Bab al-Hawa, Idlib on the Syria-Turkey border; north-eastern Kenya, bordering Somalia and Ethiopia; the Medenine and Tataouine governorates of Tunisia; Northern Ireland; the Donbas region of Ukraine which borders Russia; the Tarai region of Nepal on the border with India; and Shan and Kachin states in Myanmar, bordering China. These show how transition processes look very different when viewed from the margins of states and provide important lessons for peacebuilding policy and practice.

Any peacebuilding effort should be based on coherent, up-to-date and politically attuned analysis that includes how different groups in borderlands experience national transition processes.

Zahbia Yousuf, Accord Insight Editor

This publication is an output of the Political Settlements Research Programme (PSRP) – a four-year project to better understand how political settlements are reconfigured in conflict and peace processes, and how forms of ‘horizontal’ elite inclusion can be transformed into more ‘vertical’ forms of societal inclusion. As part of this project, Conciliation Resources has also produced an Accord Spotlight on Borderlands – Bringing in the margins: Peacebuilding and transition in borderlands.