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Liberal and Illiberal Peace-building in East Timor and Papua: Establishing Order in a Democratising State

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Publication details

JournalConflict, Security and Development
DateAccepted/In press - 7 Nov 2019
DateE-pub ahead of print (current) - 17 Feb 2020
Issue number1
Number of pages33
Pages (from-to)39-70
Early online date17/02/20
Original languageEnglish


States undergoing turbulent processes of democratisation frequently use illiberal peace-building methods to manage civil wars, as it enables them to secure order with the lowest risk. However, the existing literature on illiberal peace-building does not explain why governments sometimes opt for more liberal means, despite the risks involved. To explore this question, the paper draws on original primary sources and secondary evidence to compare the Indonesian government’s management of two civil wars during democratisation. The Papua and East Timor cases constitute an ideal comparative case study as the government took starkly different approaches to managing conflict in each region, within the same period. While East Timor was resolved via liberal methods, the Papua conflict was managed via illiberal means. I argue that two dimensions need greater recognition and interrogation within the existing illiberal peace-building framework to explain this difference: first, the role of shifting internal power balances within national political elites, especially civilian-military relations and the relative power of moderates; and, second, the influence of external actors on these internal power balances.

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    Research areas

  • Civil war, illiberal peace-building, political order, democratisation, Indonesia, East Timor, Papua

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