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Whose peace? Local ownership and UN peacebuilding

von Billerbeck, S. (2011) Whose peace? Local ownership and UN peacebuilding. In: The Future of Statebuilding: Ethics, Power and Responsibility in International Relations, 9-11 October 2009, London, UK.

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In recent years, there has been an increasing emphasis on the participation of national actors in United Nations peace operations, reflecting what has become a near orthodox commitment to ‘local ownership.’ Advocates of local ownership assert that it: (1) increases the legitimacy of UN peacebuilding efforts; (2) increases the sustainability of peacebuilding activities after the departure of the UN; and (3) increases democratic governance in post-conflict states. While such thinking about local ownership has informed UN peacebuilding policy to a large extent, the UN has, to date, assumed these positive benefits without critically examining the causal mechanisms that allegedly produce them, specifying the conditions under which this correlation holds, or providing convincing evidence for these assertions. Moreover, exactly what local ownership is, what is being owned, and who local ‘owners’ are remain unclear. Indeed a closer examination of ownership’s relation with legitimacy, sustainability, and democratization reveal a plethora of contradictions that imply that local ownership may in fact decrease the UN’s ability to deliver peacekeeping results. Crucially, however, the UN persists in adopting a local ownership approach to peacebuilding, suggesting that it does so because it is normatively appropriate rather than operationally effective.

Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Politics, Economics and International Relations > Politics and International Relations
ID Code:47505

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