Date of Award

August 2020

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Political Science


Daniel McDowell


Civil War, Conflict Relapse, Foreign Aid, Post-Conflict Reconstruction, Security Assistance

Subject Categories

Social and Behavioral Sciences


Donors have increasingly promoted the provision of security assistance to states emerging from civil war as a tool to establish peace. Driven by both security and development concerns, donors have asserted the value of this assistance to improve both the governance and effectiveness of the security sector. Despite this increase in aid, however, we know relatively little about its effects. In some cases, security assistance has promoted security force professionalization and a consolidation of peace. In others, security assistance has gone towards fueling corruption and repression, seriously jeopardizing the stability of the recipient state.

This dissertation seeks to address this gap, contributing to our understanding of security assistance and post-conflict reconstruction. First, I outline the connection between security sector governance and peace, arguing that security institutions with high levels of civilian control, accountability, and respect for human rights are more likely to support peace and stability (Chapter 2). Second, I present a theory to explain the divergent effects of security assistance (Chapter 3). I show that different types of aid have differential effects on governance, and that the magnitude of this effect is conditioned by the timing of its disbursement. I test this theory through an analysis of the experiences of Côte d’Ivoire (Chapter 4), Burundi (Chapter 5), and Sierra Leone (Chapter 6), ultimately finding support for my hypotheses.


Open Access