Dr Sarah von Billerbeck presents her talk titled the ‘The Role of Commercial Banks in Post-Conflict Peacebuilding: Anecdotal Evidence from the DRC’ at the 2018 Oxpeace Conference.
Sarah von Billerbeck is Lecturer in Politics and International Relations and co-Director of the UN and Global Order Programme at the University of Reading.
While the role of private sector actors during conflict has been explored in academic research, literature on their role after conflict and during peacebuilding is less developed. In particular, a crucial player has been entirely omitted: commercial banks. Post-conflict countries often see an influx of commercial banks in what is usually a weakly regulated market, but they nonetheless take on a number of important functions, including financial services reform, overseeing public sector salary payments, facilitating disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR) programs, and foreign investment. However, we have no systematic understanding of the actual effects of commercial banks in post-conflict settings. While they can contribute to personal financial stability, combat illegal taxation and corruption, spur economic recovery, and buttress state authority, they can also have negative effects by serving as vehicles for money laundering, contributing to financial crises, deepening public debt, and weakening faith in the government’s ability to manage the economy. This presentation highlights anecdotal evidence from a 'bancarization' programme in the DR Congo to demonstrate the importance of commercial banks in helping or hindering peacebuilding and the re-establishment of stable state-society relations after war.