Conflict and wars destroy basic infrastructure and disrupt public services (health, education, power, water, and sanitation), creating humanitarian crises and a lack of confidence and legitimacy in the reigning government. The inability of these states to provide the most basic services and enable economic activity to earn livelihoods immediately translates into a new role for stability operations. In permissive and even in semi-permissive environments, humanitarian organizations are often able to take the lead in meeting basic human needs for food, shelter, and health. In nonpermissive environments, the military must frequently assist the host country with humanitarian operations as well as help reconstruct the physical and institutional infrastructure to restore basic public services and economic activity.
In this guide, the authors provide a set of principles and operational guidelines for peacekeepers to help the country restore public infrastructure and services. The extent to which public sector reconstruction takes place is a function of the mission, the level of resources, expertise of the troops, and the host country context. The guide provides courses of action to both planners and practitioners in executing these operations and supplements existing and emerging documents. The material here draws from both theoretical and analytical frameworks as well as from the experience and lessons learned from practitioners.
While the guide is designed to provide peacekeepers with a thorough and nuanced understanding on the policy, planning, cultural and ethnic implications, tradeoffs, and options for public services reconstruction, it takes the position ultimately that the host government is responsible for public goods. Stability actors and host country governments can cooperate on policy, resource allocation, and service planning, even when the majority of services may initially be provided by nonstate or external actors, but the host country is in the lead. Issues addressed include control of corruption, administration of public services, policy, resource allocation and joint budgeting for restoration, reconstruction, and maintenance. Immediately after a conflict, the flight of skilled professionals may have left little capacity for public services restoration, making it a critical priority to rebuild capacity in engineering, planning, budgeting, and maintenance as well as to reestablish the revenue generation to sustain these services. The role for stability actors is broad and critical in this effort, as they seek to restore the ability of a government to meet the expectations of its citizens and restore legitimacy and stability to a nation.