Between the Letter and the Spirit: International Statebuilding Subversion Tactics in Burundi

Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding

Abstract: This article explores the appropriation dynamics of international statebuilding in Burundi, with a focus on the period from 2010 to 2015. If international statebuilding is most commonly presented (and debated) as practices leaning towards the achievement of a liberal democracy, this article argues that it can also be used towards undemocratic ends. The central claim is the following: the (most) recent authoritarian trend observed in Burundi’s main political force in government, the National Council for the Defence of Democracy – Forces for the Defence of Democracy (CNDD-FDD), did not only occur against international statebuilding but also through its appropriation and, more specifically, through self-reinforcing subversion tactics of appropriation. The article conceptualizes these tactics, examines the factors of emergence and conditions of existence, and presents the main expressions along three major editorial lines of international statebuilding: pluralist democracy, vibrant civil society and respect of the rule of law.

Sidney Leclercq is a post-doctoral fellow at the Université libre de Bruxelles (REPI – Recherche et Etudes en Politique Internationale) and the Université Catholique de Louvain (CECRI – Centre d’Etude des Crises et des Conflits Internationaux). He holds a Ph.D. in Political and Social Sciences from the Université libre de Bruxelles. His research focuses on statebuilding, international cooperation, aid conditionality, comprehensive approaches and transitional justice.