Key Findings: Borderlands

Despite growing interest in inclusive peacebuilding, responses to borderland instability tend to prioritise security, overlooking historical processes of marginalisation or complex cross-border political, economic and social interdependencies (Plonski and Yousuf, 2018).

These securitised responses, which are often built on mainstream policy’s assumption that peace and development is built from the centre, may exacerbate marginalisation and exclusion of borderland communities (Plonski and Yousuf, 2017).

Balancing inclusion of borderland interests and communities with the stabilisation priorities of states is a core challenge for interventions (Plonski and Yousuf, 2017).

Research by Plonski and Yousuf (2018) finds that the strategic location of borderlands means they can be important for accessing regional economic markets, facilitating trade flows and shaping diplomatic relations and national security, and thus play a key part in efforts towards peaceful change.

Analytical frameworks focused on borderlands, political settlements and inclusion can help better understanding of the margins and support more effective and inclusive peacebuilding policy and practice (Plonski and Yousuf, 2017).

PSRP research finds that there is a need for a detailed and precise typology of the violence that finds place in the borderlands in order to support the development of early warning systems and preventive options (Plonski and Yousuf, 2017).

There is also a need for a thorough understanding of who exercises authority and through what structures in borderlands, as these places are often areas of highly contested authority and hybrid governance structures (Plonski and Yousuf, 2017).

Much of the need for increased awareness and knowledge of borderland communities roots in the acute challenge to accessing information on borderlands for researchers, policymakers and others. This challenge requires innovative methodologies such as spatial mapping of data and comic strips (Plonski and Yousuf, 2017).

Plonski, S., & Yousuf, Z. Peacebuilding and transition in borderlands (PSRP Report, Accord), 2017

This report summarises discussions from a workshop to explore sub-state political settlements in conflict-affected borderlands and the possibilities for more effective and inclusive peacebuilding interventions. It looks at four key themes: concepts of borderlands, inclusion and political settlement; the particular types of violence, (in)security, governance and authority that emerge in borderlands; the challenges of working in borderlands, and innovative methods and tools to better engage with their dynamics; and peacebuilding responses and practice in borderland spaces.


Plonski, S., & Yousuf, Z. Borderlands and Peacebuilding: a View from the Margins (PSRP Report, Accord), 2018

This fourth Accord Insight publication looks at peacebuilding in borderland regions and how peace and transition processes address the interests of borderland communities. It presents seven case studies including Syria, north-eastern Kenya, Tunisia, Northern Ireland, Ukraine, Nepal and Myanmar. A ‘borderlands lens’ challenges key assumptions in current peacebuilding policy and practice: that power and order radiate outwards from the centre; that border zones are resistant to being incorporated into national peacebuilding and statebuilding projects because of a lack of security, development or governance infrastructure; and that more development and greater state presence are, therefore, logical solutions to borderlands conflict.