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This research explores the underlying assumptions of interventions by international non-governmental organizations and United Nations peace operations in the provision of security and justice, and compares them with the perceptions and experiences of local population in the Central African Republic and in South Kivu province, eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. It brings together the findings of three complementary policy studies—Towards Legitimate Stability in CAR and the DRC: External Assumptions and Local Perspectives, Securing Legitimate Stability in CAR: External Assumptions and Local Perspectives and Securing Legitimate Stability in the DRC: External Assumptions and Local Perspectives—which have been published separately.
Mismatches between the aims of external intervenors and local populations are frequently discussed in policymaking and academic debates. Foremost, the gap between the aims of external intervenors and the wishes of local populations is not as large as is often assumed. Most respondents would prefer a strong state that takes responsibility for security provision and a functioning formal justice system. They perceive non-state and informal justice solutions only as temporary alternatives. Non-state armed groups are perceived to be neither legitimate nor security providers. Moreover, external intervenors work with counterparts that local populations do not always consider legitimate representatives.
Last, although external intervenors are generally aware that identity is an important driver of conflict and social tensions—and address this through social cohesion activities—they often fail to take full account of the way this affects state-building and the strengthening of state authority.