Contemporary peacebuilding processes increasingly propose and adopt local ownership as a fundamental prerequisite in sustainable peacebuilding. Local ownership presupposes the application of an organic and context-specific approach to peacebuilding. Localisation also assumes the active participation of local actors, including national governments, civil society groups, community organisations and the private sector, in achieving a common purpose in peacebuilding processes.
Following years under the trusteeship of the international community, including the United Nations Peacebuilding Commission (UNPBC), Sierra Leone’s post-conflict peacebuilding processes continue. Within this context, this paper examines how questions of local ownership have been understood and operationalised in Sierra Leone since the end of the civil war. The first part of the paper explores the evolution of both the discourse and practice of local ownership in recent years. The second part of the paper pays particular attention to the implication of local ownership, and the relationship between international and domestic actors. The third part discusses the challenges of implementing locally-owned peace processes, particularly in countries like Sierra Leone where peace is still fragile. The last part of the paper argues that despite the challenges, local ownership remains essential to Sierra Leone’s achievement of sustainable peace.