Samantha Melis conducted PhD research in several post-conflict settings such as Haiti, Nepal, and Sierra Leone. Sam, can you explain this; what defines a post-conflict setting? Yes. Well, first I will actually say what it is not. So it's actually a time where there is neither peace nor conflict, and it's actually acquired ambiguous term. Post-conflict is more of a twilight zone. It's not necessarily after a conflict. There can be multiple conflicts also before any peace agreement or an accord that is made in different parties, and also there can be multiple conflict parties as well in the conflicts periods. So what post conflict then actually defines is quite difficult. How does that work if there's different conflict parties, as you say? Are they all involved in a peace agreement or not? Now, most of the times these peace agreements are just made with some of these conflict parties and also for some of the topics of that particular conflict. After this accord or peace agreement is made, then usually there will be a period of peace building and state building from the international community in terms of aid organizations. So in this period that you actually see a large influx of aid organizations and aid actually coming into these countries. In this course, we also spoke to researchers who conducted research in high or low conflict settings. So what is typical for a post-conflict setting? So a post-conflict setting is mostly defined by a large state present. In that sense, the state is really central, but everything is also still in transition. So you have a strong focus on the state-building processes, but the state itself is also internally divided and this transition, you can see that on multiple levels. You can see that on the national level, but also the sub-national level whether that is regional or local, and you also see that in these cleavages between states and society that is also there. These post-conflict politics come out in these settings where you have this transitional nature, so everyone is vying for power and legitimacy now everything's already set, now everything is already in place. So especially after the disaster, people really start trying to really set themselves in that role and that responsibility. So therefore, it's a little bit different than in high or low intensity conflict settings. How is that with communities? So on a community level, there can still be some intra-communal tensions that are there. That simmer underneath the surface and that resurface after a disaster. But what is actually also really interesting in these settings is that there's this tension between the society and the state. So between communities and their leaders and between communities and their national representatives. So when aid comes in, resources come in and the control over these resources is very important. You see actually the cleavage between the community and their authorities either deepening or it could also have a positive effect if they feel represented and this could also close this gap a little bit further. A lot of your research focused on humanitarian aid and disaster response in this post-conflict setting, what would you say are problems or issues that practitioners typically find there? Yeah. Well, the number one issue that is always talked about is coordination. After disaster, especially as I said, they had the state-building, peace-building programs development already going on in these countries, and after a disaster, all this aid, extra aid comes in, aid actors, organizations, they come in and that really makes it difficult to coordinate, not just amongst themselves, but also with the states that are there that often don't really have the capacity to coordinate well. This brings along quite some tensions also between state and aid actors and what aid actors and sometimes do, especially smaller organizations that don't rely that much on the relationship with the state is that they bypass, let's say, completely. This sometimes also negatively impacts the response actually by national authorities. You read a lot about bureaucracy, corruption, those issues. Can you tell us a little bit about those? Yeah. So bureaucracy actually is one of the major problems as well in post-conflict settings. It really slows down the response. But it is also sometimes something that is used by state authorities to really keep check of the aid actor. So their resource. If somewhat also of a power of them to make sure that aid organizations comply to the rules and the regulations and the approach that the state has in the settings. You already mentioned a little bit about bypassing. Is that also due to lack of capacities? It is not necessarily a lack of capacity. I think all of the actors, whether they are national, international, actually have quite a lot of capacity, but they're not always compatible with each other. But what is actually there is that it's lack of trust between the different actors. You see this between the aid actors that come there and the states. There's always a lot of talk about corruption, and of course corruption is a strong impediment to the response, but it actually normally signify something deeper underneath there. It's usually used by different actors to say, "We don't want to cooperate with this particular authority or organizations because they are corrupt and therefore we don't really trust them." You also see that in the collaboration between the international aid organizations and the national or local aid organizations that are there, often it's said that okay, these organizations don't have the capacity, but also they misuse or abuse aid funds, they're corrupt. But what is actually underneath there is more the lack of trust and not so much actually this capacity issue, but that also prevents really a good locally response in the future. Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge. We will now further explore the scenario of post-conflict scenarios from different perspectives. What do practitioners with much experience in these settings or donors recognize as the most common problems and issues? Let's find out in the following video in which different practitioners share their experience.