The Role of Local Governance in Sustaining Peace

While the importance of good governance to sustaining peace is widely recognized, the focus tends to be on national governance. This overlooks the crucial role of local governance actors, particularly when the central government is fragmented or lacks broad legitimacy. These actors include not only formal institutions like municipal governments but also a mix of other actors that could range from traditional chieftaincies to community-based organizations to religious institutions.

This issue brief explores how good local governance can contribute to sustaining peace in three ways: (1) by delivering services and promoting sustainable development more effectively and efficiently; (2) by giving people voice in a representatives and inclusive way; and (3) by nurturing political will to resolve conflict and sustain peace. It also highlights how local governance actors can undermine peace if they do not fulfill these functions effectively.

This issue brief is part of the International Peace Institute’s (IPI) attempt to reframe prevention for the purpose of sustaining peace through a series of conversations. Other conversations have focused on how to approach the UN’s regional political offices, peace operations, the SDG on gender equality, entrepreneurship, and human rights from the perspective of sustaining peace, as well as on what sustaining peace means in practice.