Aiding Peace? Donor Behavior in Conflict-Affected Countries

Do donors respond to the ebbs and flows of a peace process or is their behavior motivated by other factors that are exogenous to events within the conflict-torn country?


This project investigates the responsiveness of international donors to peace processes. A peace process begins when combatants meet to negotiate an accord, often with the assistance of third-party mediation, and ends when war re-emerges or a final agreement is reached and implemented.

The international relations and policy literatures on peacebuilding argue that donors must design their international aid programs to correspond to the local reality. If aid is not relevant to the local context, then it is not likely to alter the causes of conflict and may, in fact, undermine the peace process. For donors to influence the peace process they have to anticipate and respond to its key turning points.

Donor countries’ power to act might be hindered because of incompatible timeframes and priorities imposed by their headquarters. The project employs an innovative multi-method research design to answer these questions. It will compare the behavior of different types of donors in three relatively contemporaneous peace processes: Liberia, Nepal, and Sudan. The research result will not only provide a theoretical framework to help academics and policymakers classify the behavior of different donors but bring to light policy recommendations to improve their impact on war-to-peace transitions.


  • International aid
  • Peacebuilding
  • Development cooperation
  • Aid organisations
  • Organisational behaviour
  • Armed conflict
  • Civil war
  • Peace processes


  • Development
  • Economics
  • International relations
  • Political science


Non Governmental Organisations:

  • AidData: Center for Development Policy
  • The Geneva Peacebuilding Platform

Relevant Countries

  • Developing Countries


This project, started in 2013, has been completed.

Contact the project team

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Research team

Susanna Campbell
Graduate Institute Geneva

Jean-Louis Arcand
Graduate Institute Geneva

Michael Findley
Principal Member
The University of Texas at Austin

Rohan Gudibande
Principal Member
Graduate Institute Geneva

Josiah Marineau
Principal Member
The University of Texas at Austin

Anca Paducel
Principal Member
Graduate Institute Geneva

Brad Parks
Associated Member
AidData – Center for Development Policy

Gabriele Spilker
Associated Member
Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich

Judith Vorrath
Associated Member
German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP)

Achim Wennmann
Associated Member
Geneva Peacebuilding Platform