The objective of the thesis is to fill theoretical and empirical gaps in the development research field in three ways: Firstly, in order to conceptualise the recent changes within the donor community, the thesis aims at developing a theoretical framework for understanding why and how changes in development assistance occur. Secondly, the thesis seeks to examine empirically the implications of the peace-building objective for the donor-recipient relationship and provision of assistance. Thirdly, the thesis aspires to make propositions to be used for theory-building to guide further studies in development research.
Based on Peter Hall's theory of policy paradigms and an examination of earlier development assistance paradigms, the thesis develops a theoretical framework for explaining shifts in development assistance paradigms. The theoretical framework is used for arguing that a new paradigm of peace-building has emerged.
Principal-agent theory is applied to conceptualise the donor-recipient relationship and point to possible donor strategies within the Peace-building Paradigm. From a theoretical analysis of the Peace-building Paradigm focal points are inferred in order to guide a comparative analysis of Swedish, Dutch and British development assistance to Rwanda.
The comparative study shows that the donors tend to have difficulties handling the donor dilemma of providing development assistance to a repressive regime without supporting the repressive policies of the regime. It also demonstrates that there is potential tension between different policy instruments: between structural and operational conflict prevention, between building up state capacity and supporting civil society, and between human rights protection and security priorities.
This leads to two propositions for theory-building to guide further studies: Firstly, that the donors will vary in strategy and tend to shift between different strategies to obtain influence on the recipient government, thereby making a stable relationship with the recipient government difficult. The variance in strategy is possible because of the unclear role of the recipient state in the Peace-building Paradigm, resulting in a large room to manoeuvre for the donors to choose strategies. Secondly, the Peace-building Paradigm's prescription to carry out potentially contradicting policies simultaneously might have negative consequences for obtaining the goal of peace-building.