Degree Name

MA in Conflict Transformation

First Advisor

Paula Green


This thesis looks at the question of, “How can nations on the periphery of global capitalism sustainably negotiate with nations in the center of global capitalist power in the process of governance decentralization in violent conflict zones?” Decentralization here describes the process of power transfer of fiscal, political, and administrative duties from higher and more centralized entities to lower and more localized divisions. The process of decentralization is employed to cultivate participatory democratization, minority advocacy, peacebuilding, and development. Because of the nature of these needs decentralization is often accompanied by international intervention that uses the justification of “failed statehood.” This capstone uses interviews with practitioners in the fields of academia, development, conflict transformation, and human rights activism and those with direct experience of decentralization processes, along with extensive research into case studies with a range of efficacy, to extricate some of the difficulties and conflicting agendas that plague decentralization. This capstone employs a mixture between ground theory qualitative analysis and Participatory Action Research to clarify the complexities of decentralization primarily to those in the margins of global power. This research showed that decentralization must always be internally-led but that accountability, capacity, and challenging the status quo can prove difficult, forcing many nations to seek external aid or assistance that often comes with strings attached. Such negotiating with power may be necessary, but the alternatives that exist are useful to explore and extrapolate upon for guidance.


Keywords: Decentralization, governance, liberalism, peacebuilding, development, and violent conflict.


Comparative Politics | Economics | International and Area Studies | Models and Methods | Political Economy | Political Science