B. Local ownership

Local ownership designates the process as well as the objective of the gradual takeover of responsibility by local actors. As a prerequisite for the sustainability of peace consolidation, it is a key ingredient in the exit strategy of a peace operation or civilian crisis management mission. Local ownership is both a result-oriented principle and a normative concept that foresees the involvement of local actors as early as possible.

For decades, local ownership has been an ingredient in development cooperation. This involves concepts such as ‘helping people help themselves’ or ‘participatory development’. With an increasing number of peace consolidation tasks, local ownership has become even more important since the 1990s. The concept has become a key element of reports, position papers and guidelines for a broad variety of actors in crisis management missions. However, there is neither a coherent theory of local ownership nor a common view of what the implementation of the principle entails in practice. How can a local population completely or even partly take ownership of a peacebuilding process if that process is dominated by international actors? Often, local ownership constitutes the attempt to adjust already defined international politics to local realities.

Interaction between local and international actors is, as a rule, asymmetric. International actors dominate processes, thus often impeding local ownership. In practice, however, methods and instruments of cooperation between local and international actors are applied that support local participation, acceptance and eventually ownership. In this regard, the co-location of international and local personnel can contribute to good cooperation and joint learning. Programmes for the recruitment and further education of national employees (National Professional Officers), although well received, entail the possibility that qualified national experts may migrate to international organisations (‘brain drain’).