Every week since February there have been peaceful mass gatherings calling for change in Algeria. The population wishes to see their country live up to its historic reputation for liberty and independence from colonialism. While many have interpreted the protests as a continuation of the “Arab Spring,” Algeria is the only Arab country to have attempted a democratization experiment as far back as the 1990s. The current revolt, now in its ninth week, was thus in some sense predictable given Algeria’s history, while also unprecedented, hopeful, and complicated.
Aspirations for peace tend to be depicted negatively, as the absence of conflict. In many societies, peace is experienced as the order that follows the end of war, often called negative peace. Seen through this prism, peace is rarely studied independently or measured directly without the long shadow of its ubiquitous companion, conflict. It also leaves little space for peace to be pursued as a national meta-policy—as in Costa Rica with its national vision for peace, or Ethiopia with its newly-established Ministry for Peace.
Almost all over the planet, except where there is little enquiring about the phenomenon, jihadism, or « violent extremism », is a continuous threat to the nations’ social fabric. In African countries, terrorist activities undermine national communities and endanger the difficult construction of the nation-state.
It is over with 2018. The New Year 2019 inherits the same structural problems: more conflicts and more migrations. Both are the results of armed radicals’ groups terrorist activities and governments’ ambiguous policies. Though indispensable, the external military presence is now in question.
In its review of the peacebuilding architecture, the Advisory Group of Experts introduced the language of “sustaining peace” as a counterpoint to the term “peacebuilding.” Although conceived as a comprehensive process, peacebuilding has come to be narrowly interpreted as time-bound, exogenous interventions that take place “after the guns fall silent” in fragile or conflict- affected states.2 Sustaining peace seeks to reclaim peace in its own right and detach it from the subservient affiliation with conflict that has defined it over the past four decades.3