Chris van der Borgh
Chris van der Borgh is assistant professor at the Centre for Conflict Studies at Utrecht University, the Netherlands. He previously worked as strategic advisor for The Broker's Sahel Watch programme. He specializes in issues such as conflict analysis, post-war development and peace building, in particular the role of external donors in political reform and governance. He has extensive field experience in El Salvador and his PhD deals with the role of external donors in the rebuilding of that country after the civil war. His current research concerns the consolidation of peace processes and the role of foreign assistance, focusing on the case of Kosovo and comparing this with other post-war rebuilding efforts.
During the past decade, gangs have become a powerful and violent presence in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, the ‘Northern Triangle’ of Central America. The particular evolution of the gang phenomenon has been deeply shaped by a series of reactions and adaptations to ill-developed security policies that have been unable to tackle the underying causes of gang emergence and growth.
International missions that aim to support stability, peace- and state-building in crisis areas are often unsure of how to move forward. The idea is gaining ground that a ‘revisioning’ of such interventions is needed. Hybrid is the new buzzword.
Since the end of the civil wars in Central America in the 1990s there has been considerable fear of violent street gangs, or maras. The countries in the region have implemented various anti-gang policies and approaches, with mixed results.
The concept of fragile states seeks to marry development and security issues. But it has led to a variety of fragile state agendas of international donors, and a lack of consensus on priorities and strategies.