Domesticating by commodifying the liberal peace? Evidence from the southern Philippines (2017)
Liberal peacebuilding is the prominent and popular framework employed by intergovernmental organisations and many international non-government organisations in conflict management and resolution in conflictual societies globally. This peacebuilding framework is based on the liberal peace theory, which advances the idea that liberally constituted states are more peaceful in comparison to their illiberal counterparts. With the significant decline of interstate conflicts in the post-Cold War era, IGOs and NGOs shifted their focus and attention to intrastate conflicts in the developing world using the same liberal peacebuilding framework. This paper seeks to explain the process whereby IGOs and NGOs transport, and therefore domesticate, the liberal peace in the context of intrastate conflict in Mindanao—a war-torn region in the southern Philippines. The primary argument of this paper is that the commodification of peace is a strategic mechanism of IGOs and donor agencies to incentivise NGOs in transporting the liberal peace in Mindanao, which has been riven by decades of insurgency conflict and violence. The arguments presented in this paper are drawn from in-depth interviews and ethnographic field observations in conflict-affected communities in the southern Philippines. This paper offers two major contributions. First, it seeks to advance the scholarly understanding of the nexus between liberal democratic peacebuilding and the politics of aid in the context of intrastate conflict. Second, it presents the different ontological and empirical referents of the domestic variants of the liberal peace theory, which are embedded in the activities of NGOs in Mindanao.