This working paper studies the impact of reconstruction on state making, examining Lebanon as a case study. It challenges the hypothesis investigated by the Cities and Fragile States research stream of the Crisis States Research Centre that (capital) cities constitute ideal sites for reconstruction and peace-building. It argues that the very concentration of post-conflict reconstruction in Beirut's Central District pursuing a profit-oriented urban development strategy alongside the failure to cater to and integrate the city's periphery and hinterland led to a loss of government legitimacy and credibility among its citizens and weakened state control in the marginalized regions. This allowed para-state actors (Hezbollah) to use reconstruction politics as a means to achieve territorial domination and to establish powerful autonomous governance structures outside the reach of the weak state institutions. Such developments later empowered these actors to challenge the authority of the central government by initiating the 2006 war against Israel and occupy central areas in Beirut in an attempt to reclaim the capital city and to seize power over government institutions thus perpetuating the country's fragility.
Occasional Paper No. 4, London, UK; Crisis States Research Centre, 19 pp.