Peacebuilding is the flagship activity of the United Nations (UN). UN peacebuilding does not take place in a vacuum but in a world political context that is changing. One of the major changes has been the shift from unipolarity to multipolarity in the post Cold War era. The objective of this paper is to understand whether changes in world politics have impacted the way the UN peacebuilding enterprise is legitimized. The central assumption is that changes in world politics lead to a change in the normative standards on which actors claim (or challenge) the legitimacy of the UN in peacebuilding (i.e. legitimation narratives). More specifically, we can expect that the shift from unipolarity to multipolarity leads to ‘legitimation contests’ among states - especially between traditional and rising powers - on what a ‘good’ or a ‘bad’ approach to peacebuilding is. Empirically, this article analyses statements made by diplomats in the Security Council from 1991 to 2020 for three sets of actors: France, the UK and the USA as traditional powers and members of the P5; Russia and China as rising powers and members of the P5, and Brazil, South Africa and Turkey as regional powers. This paper engages with a comparative assessment (between countries and over time) of how these states legitimize the role of the UN in peacebuilding. The preliminary findings show that these states do not use the same narratives and that these narratives are strongly related to these states’ conceptions of security threats and sovereignty.
About the speaker
Fanny Badache is a postdoctoral researcher in the project « A child of its time: the impact of world politics on UN peacebuilding » hosted at the CCDP. She has PhD in political science from the University Lausanne. Her areas of expertise lie at the intersection between international relations and public administration.