CDDRL launches research project on democracy and statebuilding

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Ben Rowswell (left) speaking to the Governor of Kandahar, Tooryalai Wesa
Photo credit: 
Ben Rowswell

FSI's Center for Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law (CDDRL) is pleased to announce the launch of a new research project entitled, "Promoting Popular Sovereignty in Statebuilding," to be conducted during the 2010-11 academic year.  Led by Ben Rowswell, a Canadian diplomat currently on leave as a Visiting Scholar at CDDRL, the project will draw on lessons from Afghanistan, Iraq and other countries recovering from conflict. Funding has been generously provided by the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade through the Global Peace and Security Fund.

Through a practitioner's lens, this project will develop a new approach to statebuilding that focuses on the local population and the need to foster accountability from those who exercise power over it-both state institutions and their sources of international support. It will examine constraints to effective statebuilding, particularly the emphasis placed on national sovereignty and the rush to transition. The final output of this research will be a volume for publication that will inform policy and programming approaches that help statebuilding efforts generate lasting stability.

A highlight of this project will be a two-day symposium held at CDDRL on February 25 and 26, 2011.  This event will bring Afghan officials, diplomats, the military, academia and non-governmental organizations to Stanford University to exchange experiences, review lessons and test conclusions suggested by the research. 

"It would be hard to find a more experienced, principled, and yet pragmatic practitioner than Ben Rowswell to lead this effort," said CDDRL Director Larry Diamond.  "Ever since I met him in Iraq in 2004, I have been deeply impressed with Ben's intellect, humanity, and operational ability."

Rowswell's experience in statebuilding spans three conflicts, from Somalia (1993) to Iraq (2003-05) and most recently Afghanistan (2008-10).  From 2009 to 2010, Rowswell served as Representative of Canada in Kandahar, at the heart of the Afghan conflict. In this position he directed the Kandahar Provincial Reconstruction Team, leading more than 100 American and Canadian diplomats, aid workers, civilian police and other experts. Prior to that, he served as Deputy Head of Mission of Canada's embassy in Kabul.