The role of customs reform in managing the legacy of Kosovo’s war economy is explored. This reform area is shown to be a central to the liberal peacebuilding agenda with the protection of borders and the facilitation of trade seen as essential features of an effective liberal state. However, these reforms often lead to a favouring of already powerful actors which in turn pushes others further into the informal and illegal realms. Evidence of depoliticized approaches to reform are evidenced, illustrating the bias for programming to be based on problematic rational-choice understandings of war economies. The role of the DSI in creating problems that customs agencies are tasked with resolving is highlighted, and as with other areas of reform, success is hindered by a range of operational problems. However, evidence also reveals important ‘policy moments’ where a structural political-economy understanding of war economies influenced policy to a greater degree.
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