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Vanessa F. Newby, ‘Positive Hybridity? Unpacking UN Security Sector Reform in South Lebanon’, Contemporary Politics, 27 September 2016 (online).
Rebuilding the local legitimacy of a national army after civil war is an important part of security sector reform (SSR) to help ensure the survival of the institution once the statebuilding bandwagon has moved on. The peacebuilding literature argues local ownership can provide international actors with local legitimacy. This article shows how an international actor can help to legitimise a local institution. Using new empirical material, this article examines the capacity-building work of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) with the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), and opens up the ‘black box’ of the micro-processes of SSR. First, it shows how an international actor can build the local legitimacy of a national army over time to build local knowledge and develop strong relationships with key stakeholders at national and civilian levels. Second, it explicates the political tensions that impact local and international agency and create hybrid solutions on the ground. Finally it argues that a successful hybrid solution in peacebuilding is possible when the normative values of the SSR project are accepted by key stakeholders and the local population. The article argues that UNIFIL’s SSR is assisted by the factors of time, flexibility, and pragmatism.