Recent peacebuilding literature provides a sustained critique of externally designed conflict management processes and promotes instead local mechanisms. Such mechanisms, it is argued, will provide more ownership and agency to local actors and, thus, a more sustainable peace. But while there are many examples of local conflict management institutions, and many discussions of the hybrid outcomes of interaction between the global and local, the literature rarely explores exactly what transpires on the ground when international actors influence the operation of local peace processes. This paper provides exactly this insight. The data presented illustrates how local conflict management institutions in rural Sierra Leone are subtly manipulated by actors – both international and local – to maintain and enhance existing relations of power. The paper illustrates, therefore, the problems that arise when local conflict management institutions become interlaced with new forms of power and start themselves to serve as sites of contestation and resistance.
- Sierra Leone
- customary authority