Theories, rhetoric and practice: recovering the capacities of war-torn societies

S Barakat, M Chard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


As international attention focuses on the rebuilding of Afghanistan, this paper looks critically at the evolution and meaning of the core concepts underpinning aims and strategies for recovery: the key role of institutional development and capacity building in establishing good governance based on collaboration between state, civil society and market; the empirical consensus, over many decades, for best practice in development; the acknowledgement that recovery of war-torn societies is a development challenge. It is shown that, despite this understanding, operational practice continues to contradict the principles and lessons learned from proven experience. The financial and administrative culture of the international institutions, lack of political will, donor conditionality and recipients' contrary agendas are seen to contribute to this failure. The paper concludes by examining the implications of this analysis for the recovery of Afghanistan.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)817-835
Number of pages19
JournalThird World Quarterly
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2002



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