The Pitfalls and Potholes of Reconstruction: Understanding the Role of Infrastructure in Post-Conflict Reconstruction

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National infrastructure form the bedrock for economic growth and social security, both of which lowers conflict risks. This encourages states and international organizations to invest heavily in post-conflict infrastructure reconstruction

National infrastructure form the bedrock for economic growth and social security, both of which lowers conflict risks. This encourages states and international organizations to invest heavily in post-conflict infrastructure reconstruction efforts, believing that infrastructure provision will reduce future political instability. This belief is based largely on the perceived successes of reconstruction efforts in prior eras, especially after World War II. Today, post-conflict reconstruction efforts are much less successful in this regard and, overall, are not reducing political instability---Iraq being the quintessential example of such policy failure. In the face of both ongoing conflict and persistent needs for infrastructure reconstruction after conflicts, therefore, there is a critical need to understand two questions: Why are current reconstruction efforts failing to reduce political instability or even, in some cases, increasing it? And, how can reconstruction efforts be organized to do better? To address these questions, this dissertation examines infrastructure reconstruction across a wide range of national contexts. In doing this, an updated viewpoint is provided on the role of infrastructure in conflict-prone areas to include a long-term perspective on infrastructure system's role in society, technological integration, and relationship between the state and conflicting groups. This dissertation finds that though provision of different types of infrastructure might increase conflict risks in the short term, such provision can reduce conflict in the long run depending on how and where infrastructure is provided vis-a-vis excluded populations. These results provide crucial input towards the redesign of reconstruction policies to limit future political instability risks through infrastructure.