For all of the doubts raised about the effectiveness of international aid in advancing peace and development, there are few examples of developing countries that are even relatively untouched by it. Sarah G. Phillips's When There Was No Aid offers us one such example.
Using evidence from Somaliland's experience of peace-building, When There Was No Aid challenges two of the most engrained presumptions about violence and poverty in the global South. First, that intervention by actors in the global North is self-evidently useful in ending them, and second that the quality of a country's governance institutions (whether formal or informal) necessarily determines the level of peace and civil order that the country experiences.
Phillips explores how popular discourses about war, peace, and international intervention structure the conditions of possibility to such a degree that even the inability of institutions to provide reliable security can stabilize a prolonged period of peace. She argues that Somaliland's post-conflict peace is grounded less in the constraining power of its institutions than in a powerful discourse about the country's structural, temporal, and physical proximity to war. Through its sensitivity to the ease with which peace gives way to war, Phillips argues, this discourse has indirectly harnessed an apparent propensity to war as a source of order.
"When There Was No Aid is a critical contribution to debates about the effectiveness of international interventions in shaping peace. Phillips makes a compelling argument about the role of war in peace, the limitations of international institutional responses to peacebuilding, and the importance of local discourses in building and maintaining peace—this book should be essential reading for scholars and practitioners working in conflict-zones globally."
Jasmine-Kim Westendorf, La Trobe University, author of Violating Peace
"In this important study, Sarah Phillips builds on her influential previous work on a fascinating natural experiment. Those insisting on 'state-building' in so-called fragile states need to learn from Somaliland that the very absence of an effective state was what brought about peace."
Duncan Green, London School of Economics and Political Science, author of How Change Happens
"When There Was No Aid presents persuasive and thought-provoking arguments. This book will be of great interest to policy-makers and practitioners, and makes a significant contribution to researchers in the fields of Peace studies, Conflict studies, and African studies."
Jonathan Fisher, University of Birmingham, author of East Africa after Liberation