Ownership in state building policies: A notion that matters?

Par Dr. Gérard Birantamije

Since the 2005 Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness, “Ownership” has become the mantra of international development policies, including those related to state-building. Talking about ownership may seem redundant, given the fact that these international actors call for ownership by local actors on matters within their sovereignty. If ownership may be readily used in this kind of discourse on state-building, its current usage should demand its operationalization. This thinking focuses on the essence of the concept and stresses on how it can be operationalized when dealing with public policies in peacebuilding context.

The purpose of this Policy brief that explores the notion of ownership was to inform the public on a concept that has become the mantra of state-building policies, both at local and international level. This concept remains poorly understood but holds deeper meaning in terms of relations between state-building actors. In reviewing the concepts that are implicit in the concept of ownership, the paper emphasizes those aspects that also feed the current debate on domestic policy, especially in countries undergoing reconstruction. However, it is the operationalization that still problematic. These three ways of operationalizing ownership explored and the questions that are relying on each one underline the importance of this notion while dealing with state-building policies. They highlight the way to bridge gaps from theory to practice.

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