Gang-driven violence in the urban slums of Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince, has been a preoccupation of international peace-building efforts for the past decade, yet continues to pose a serious threat to peace and stability in the country. These communities have, in recent years, been the site of an ongoing series of experiments, involving a range of different actors, aimed at reclaiming them from armed gangs; however, the isolated and fragmented nature of these interventions has reduced their cumulative impact. This paper makes a case for greater coherence and coordination between bottom-up community violence reduction efforts and top-down police reform, based on a broader argument around the importance of “vertically integrated peace building.” Based on field interviews with community leaders as well as officials from both the UN and the Haitian government, this paper suggests that, in the public security realm as elsewhere, the careful integration of top-down and bottom-up efforts represents an important avenue for strengthening state-society relations, increasingly recognized as a crucial component of any sustainable peace-building process.

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CIGI Papers present in-depth analysis and discussion on governance-related subjects. They include policy papers that present CIGI experts' positions or contributions to policy debates, and background papers that contain research findings, insights and data that contribute to the development of policy positions.
  • Timothy Donais is an associate professor at the Balsillie School of International Affairs and Wilfrid Laurier University's Department of Global Studies. An international security expert, he is currently leading a collaborative research project on vertical integration and the United Nations peacebuilding architecture.