Executive Training Seminar | Economy in War-torn Countries: Pathways to Recovery and Reconstruction


The executive training focuses on the economic dimensions of civil wars. It explores how economic life changes amid widespread violence and state breakdown and how wartime political-economic arrangements create durable and remarkably resilient socio-economic mechanisms and networks. These arrangements help in mitigating risks, regulating access to resources, markets and information, and are likely to endure and influence pathways out of conflict as well as post-conflict recovery.

Understanding civil war economy is therefore essential for policy-makers and practitioners involved in conflict resolution and reconstruction, adding an important dimension beyond the traditional focus on security that characterises the bulk of analyses and studies of civil wars. The executive training will bring together academics and policy advisers, practitioners and political and social activists with direct experience on the national and local levels.

It will borrow from political economy, political science, economic sociology and international relations, combining it with empirical evidence from the field. The training examines cases from the MENA i.e. Iraq, Syria and Libya, but also draws on the experience from historical cases including Angola, Kosovo, Colombia and Sri Lanka.


Programme outline

Day 1

Session 1 | Wartime political-economic arrangements

How does the economy function during times of conflict? How do wartime political-economic arrangements create durable and resilient socio-economic mechanisms and networks? How do businesses survive, acquire information about risks and opportunities and how do some even thrive? And in the absence of a credible claim by state agencies on the monopoly over the use of force, who supplies violence and/or protection?

Among other issues, this session will look at:

  1. The economic role played by armed groups, and particularly: their role in running economic activities capitalising on social relations; their role in developing new economic activities, which are often unofficial and illegal, such as human and commodities trafficking, and selling protection; and their influence on the public (e.g. central banks, oil companies etc.) and private sectors (e.g. foreign and local enterprises).
  2. The mitigation effect of private businesses operating in conflict zones on problems such as unemployment, human and material insecurity, shortages of basic goods and public services.
  3. The effects of international players (e.g. NGOs, UN, private companies etc.) and their interaction with local actors, including security/violence providers in a conflict situation.

Session 2 | Pathways from war economy

Considering the war economies’ specific dynamics, how are they expected to influence, if not shape altogether, pathways to recovery and reconstruction? How much do these pathways differ depending on each national context? Can reconstruction successfully contribute towards national reconciliation/political solutions to conflicts? How do we successfully deal with those profiting from the conflict on an economic level creating stakes for them in bringing about and upholding peace arrangements?

This session will look at the economic consequences of political processes and conflict settlements, as well as the unintended consequences of negotiations that do not pay sufficient attention to the economic aspects of conflict and post-conflict realities.

Day 2

Session 3 | Lessons from past cases

What do past experiences of exiting war economies teach us about prospects for resolution, recovery and sustainable peace-building? This session will look at post-2002 Angola, post-2009 Sri Lanka and Lebanon. These cases depict diverse processes by which protracted civil conflicts were brought to an end. In Angola and Sri Lanka, one party emerged triumphant and post-conflict reconstruction addressed issues of reintegration of former rebel-supporting areas and constituencies. In either case, did international actors play a key role in the conclusion of the conflict and the launch of reconstruction and reconciliation efforts? Conversely, in Lebanon the civil war (1975-1990) ended with a broad regional and international arrangement that re-established state power and set the parametres for a regionally-supported reconstruction process.

Session 4 | Beyond well-tried recipes

What is the position of international financial institutions and development banks? How do they plan to deal with cases like Iraq, Libya and Syria? What do they have in mind concerning the sources of finance, the potential role for foreign and domestic investors and creditors and the political handling of diverging geopolitical and economic interests on the national, regional and international levels?

What about spoilers? What tools can be used to reduce corruption in reconstruction programmes? Are there ways to use such programmes to also reinforce institutional capacity re: transparency and accountability? What kind of partnerships and leverage would be needed to implement something like this?

Day 3

Session 5 | A role for the private sector 

What is the current status of the domestic and foreign private sector in MENA war-torn countries? How will this impact its willingness, capacity and manner of engaging with any potential recovery? How about large multinationals in sectors like oil and natural gas and construction; will they return to Iraq and Libya, and on which terms? What are the incentives and constraints? And; will sovereign funds and investment banks see opportunities amid the risks that plague conflict and post-conflict contexts?

How is it possible to design reconstruction/local development projects that have wider economic impact (i.e. that there is trickle down) that is sustainable? What tools/leverage are available to international private sector actors, NGOs, UN/EU, local actors?


Applications deadlines:

  • Scholarship applications: 8 October
  • All other applications: 31 October 2018

If you are applying for a paying place but require a visa, you are strongly advised to send your application by the 8 October.