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Porträtt på Britta. Foto.

Britta Sjöstedt


Porträtt på Britta. Foto.

International actors in environmental peacebuilding : a manifestation of neo-colonialism or practices of pragmatism?


  • Britta Sjöstedt

Summary, in English

In this paper, I explore the practice of environmental management by international actors in institutionally weak states transitioning from peace to conflict (post-conflict) to analyse how these actors may fill an institutional and legal gap. This is of interest as it moves the governance of the environment in the post-conflict states from a domestic to an international level. In post-conflict states, peacebuilding activities are supposed to rebuild the society by establishing robust states able to prevent the reoccurring of hostilities. However, the peacebuilding activities can have an opposite effect. In regard to the armed conflicts taking place in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the World Heritage Convention (WHC) has been applied to guide international state aid, international organisations, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and other actors in the restoration and reinforcement of the environmental protection of the Congolese world heritage sites that were adversely affected by the conflicts. The WHC contributed to attract and direct actors of the international community to engage in and provide funding for the protection of the sites in the DRC. Currently, all the world heritage sites are more or less managed and funded by foreign and international actors (for instance the UNESCO, European Commission, World Wildlife Fund, the German Aid organization GIZ, African Development Foundation) often through private-public partnerships with little involvement of the national state organs. Thus, the capacity building provided for conserving the Congolese world heritage sites appears not to contribute to stronger national institutions or rebuilding of the state. In fact, the management of the world heritage sites by foreign actors could be viewed as a form of neo-colonialism to get the control over the environment and its resources. This raises some questions. For instance, is the suggested capacity building to post-conflict states in reality ‘capacity demolishing’ as it creates a system of dependence on foreign aid? On the other hand, the Congolese government and its state organs suffer from corruption. Consequently, it may be in the donors’ interest to keep the Congolese organs away from the foreign aid to ensure effective the management of the sites. In this paper, I want to shed some light on how the environmental treaties such as the WHC can be invoked to govern the environment in a manner that may retain post-conflict states under the dictates of international actors with limited influence over their own natural resources.


  • Juridiska institutionen
  • Miljörätt
  • Folkrätt






Konferens - annat


  • Law


  • Public international law
  • environmental law
  • Folkrätt
  • miljörätt

Conference name

International Law in a Dark Time

Conference date

2017-05-22 - 2017-05-23

Conference place

Helsinki, Finland




  • Environmental Law
  • Public International Law