Dr Emmaculate Liaga and GovInn Deputy Director Dr Cori Wielenga co-authored a paper comparing peace processes in South Sudan and Burundi.
Both Burundi and South Sudan experience intractable conflicts which national and international actors struggle to resolve. Efforts to consolidate the nation‐state and foster social cohesion seem to be unsuccessful. As has been well documented in the literature, top‐down efforts to facilitate social cohesion by international and national actors are not enough to foster sustainable peace. Yet the dynamics and actors involved in bottom‐up interventions for social cohesion are less well understood than elite interventions. This article contributes to a deeper understanding of the bottom‐up interventions and explores the vertical integration between top‐down and bottom‐up efforts at social cohesion that exist along the local, national, and international trajectory in the two cases. Particularly in contexts such as South Sudan and Burundi, which are characterized by societies that are held together through complex social and relational networks, and in which informal governance and conflict resolution mechanisms hold high levels of legitimacy, this under‐researched aspect of social cohesion may hold critical insights in terms of consolidating nation‐states. The article provides an argument for the consideration of bottom‐up approaches for more integration of social cohesion mechanisms.