Examining Mine Action’s ‘peaceability’ potential through everyday narratives and practices in Somaliland

by Sarah Njeri

15 Mar 2022
Journal of the British Academy
Digital Object Identifier
Number of pages
25 (pp. 109-133)

Abstract: The way in which societies conceptualise peace, and therefore peacebuilding, is dependent on various factors, including the society itself, its history, cultural and social foundations, the legacies of violence and peacebuilding initiatives. Drawing on interviews with various constituents in Somaliland, this article will demonstrate how bottom-up narratives and understandings of peace and peacebuilding have been shaped by the legacy of war and shared history of the reconciliation process, which was led by the elders. Similarly, this conceptualisation of peace defines what activities are considered as peacebuilding. However, the extent of this conceptualisation does not extend to mine action; an activity that was initiated by the elders during the post-war reconciliation process, and whose outcomes, such as facilitating mobility, safety and security, were outlined as peace indicators by those interviewed. Thus, while mine action has intrinsic peacebuilding potential, it is not conceptualised as peacebuilding by either international or local peacebuilders. This paper therefore seeks to critically examine this limitation. It employs Goodhand & Hulme’s (2000) concept of a peace audit, an approach to critically look at the way in which an intervention is undertaken to assess how this has raised or lowered the probability of peace. Beyond the history, using the peaceability approach, the article analyses the extent to which there are endowments of ‘peace capital’ accrued or undermined by the sector’s everyday activities. It concludes that the ‘everyday’ actions of the mine action actors contribute to the way in which local communities comprehended mine action interventions through the daily activities of the actors on the ground, their contrasting lifestyles, values and behaviour.

Keywords: Peacebuilding, Somaliland, mine action, everyday peace, peaceability.

Article posted to Journal of the British Academy, volume 10, supplementary issue 1 (Everyday peacebuilding and practices in Kenya, South Sudan, Somaliland and Ghana).

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