Research page

Project Description

The project develops a mid-level theory on how world politics influence peacebuilding and thereby contributes to International Relations theories and peace research. By providing a macro-perspective on peacebuilding, it ultimately helps to render it more effective in addressing contemporary conflicts.

UN peacebuilding is at a watershed, sadly illustrated by its failure to adequately address contemporary conflicts, such as in Libya, Syria, and Yemen. In the years immediately following the end of the Cold War, there was a consensus within the international community that peace operations needed to address root causes of conflicts and thus have extensive mandates, including the rebuilding of a liberal state. In recent years, this consensus has waned and different approaches to peacebuilding compete.

This turning point in UN peacebuilding can be understood as part of broader changes in world politics. The increasing influence of Russia and China, as well as other rising powers, such as Brazil, India, and Turkey, challenge US domination in world politics. The proposed project inquires into how this shift from a unipolar to a multipolar world order influences UN peacebuilding. It establishes a dataset on UN peace missions since the end of the Cold War to analyze how they have changed. It then conducts an in-depth study of the link between world politics and UN peace missions. It does so through a content analysis of UN policy documents regarding peacebuilding and an in-depth study of six cases, namely the UN peacekeeping missions in Central African Republic and Mali, the UN peacemaking missions in Syria and Yemen, and the UN in-country political missions in Libya and Afghanistan.

The project’s findings will be disseminated in journal articles, one edited special issue, presentations at scientific conferences, and in a PhD dissertation. Moreover, a policy paper on each case study will be published and a workshop held to disseminate the findings amongst practitioners.

 

Background

This project is funded through a PRIMA grant from the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF). This prestigious grant is aimed at excellent women researchers who show a high potential for obtaining a professorship.

Key Events of the Project

  • May 2021: Fanny Badache presented a paper at the workshop « The Legitimation of International Organisations in Disruptive Times » during the ECPR Joint Sessions.

  • April 2021: Bilal Salayme was interviewed live by Aljazeera Mubasher on a potential Egyptian-Turkish rapprochement.  

  • April 2021: Marie Lobjoy participated in a panel discussion on humanitarian civil-military coordination (UN-CMCoord) analysis at the Human Networks & Partnerships Weeks. 

  • April 2021: Bilal Salayme wrote an op-ed for TRT Arabi, on the establishment of the Qatari-Turkish-Russian mechanism on the Syrian track. Link here

  • April 2021: Sara Hellmüller published a paper on consent to mediation in internationalized civil wars in International Negotiation. Link here.

  • April 2021: Sara Hellmüller participated in a high-level panel on Syria at the EU Community of Practice on Peace Mediation 2021 event.

  • April 2021: Sara Hellmüller and Bilal Salayme engaged in a conversation with UN Special Envoy for Syria, Geir O. Pedersen, on Multilateralism in the 21st century on the occasion of the International Day of Multilateralism. Link here

  • April 2021: Fanny Badache and Sara Hellmüller presented papers at the Annual Convention of the International Studies Association. Sara Hellmüller was co-chair of program for the Peace Studies Section.

  • April 2021: Sara Hellmüller was interviewed by Swissinfo for an article on Swiss policy to promote women. Link here.

  • March 2021: Bilal Salayme was a discussant in the join event of CCDP and the University of Neuchâtel 'Borders in the Middle East: Past and Present'.

  • March 2021: Bilal Salayme gave a lecture on 'Turkey in the Middle East', for a Masters course at the International University in Geneva

  • March 2021: Sara Hellmüller gave a lecture on UN Peace Operations in a Changing World Order at the Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo.

  • March 2021: Sara Hellmüller was interviewed on UN Peace Missions by the Swiss National Radio station (SRF) for their program Echo der Zeit. Link here.

  • February 2021: Fanny Badache and Sara Hellmüller presented papers during the Annual Congress of the Swiss Political Science Association. Sara Hellmüller was co-chair of the Peace and Security Working Group.

  • February 2021: Sara Hellmüller became a member of Swiss Women in Peace Processes (SWiPP), a network of 15 women working on peace processes created by the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs. Link here.

  • January 2021: Fanny Badache joined the project team as Postdoctoral Researcher. 

  • December 2020: Sara Hellmüller, together with co-authors Jamie Pring and Oliver Richmond, published an article entitled "How Norms Matter in Mediation: An Introduction" in the Swiss Political Science Review. Link here.

  • November 2020: Sara Hellmüller published a chapter entitled "Civil Society Inclusion in Peace Mediation," in The Palgrave Encyclopedia of Peace and Conflict Studies. Link here.

  • November 2020: Sara Hellmüller published a chapter entitled "DR Congo: Local and International Peacebuilders’ Interaction," in The Palgrave Encyclopedia of Peace and Conflict Studies. Link here.

  • October 2020: Sara Hellmüller gave a training on “Mediation: The Case of Syria” to Syrian Women mandated by swisspeace and NOREF.

  • October 2020: Sara Hellmüller published an article entitled "Meaning‐Making in Peace‐Making: The Inclusion Norm at the Interplay between the United Nations and Civil Society in the Syrian Peace Process," in the Swiss Political Science Review. Link here.

  • October 2020: Sara Hellmüller published a chapter entitled "Mediation," in The Palgrave Encyclopedia of Peace and Conflict StudiesLink here.

  • September 2020: Bilal Salayme joined the project team as Research Assistant. Bilal is pursuing a PhD in International Relations/Political Science at the Graduate Institute. His research interests include authoritarianism, regime change, armed non-state actors, and armed conflict and peacebuilding.

  • September 2020: Sara Hellmüller presented a paper on the research project at the annual workshop of the working group on empirical methods of the German Association for Peace and Conflict Studies. Link here.

  • September 2020: Sara Hellmüller presented preliminary findings of the dataset on UN peace operations at the conference "Politics after War: Reexamining Dilemmas of Peacebuilding in the Era of Trump and COVID." Link here.

  • August 2020: Sara Hellmüller published a chapter entitled "The Role of Civil Society Actors in Peacemaking and Peacebuilding," in The Routledge Handbook of Peace, Security and Development. Link here.

  • May 2020: Marie Lobjoy joined the project team as Student Researcher. Marie is pursuing a Master in International Affairs at the Graduate Institute. Her research interests include critical security studies and military interventionism in the MENA and Sahel regions.  

  • April 2020: We are recruiting a post-doctoral student to work on the project (application deadline: 12/06/2020). Link here

  • March 2020: Sara Hellmüller gave an interview to the German news channel ZDF on the Idlib ceasefire concluded between Russia and Turkey. Link here

  • March 2020: Rosalind Tan joined the project team as Student Researcher. Rosalind is pursuing a Master in International Affairs at the Graduate Institute. Her research interests include postcolonial critical theory, discourse analysis and illiberal peacebuilding. 

  • February 2020: Sara Hellmüller presented the research project at the Annual Congress of the Swiss Political Science Association. Link here.

  • January 2020: Sara Hellmüller received a SNSF Flexibility Grant for the entire duration of the project.

Advisory Board

  • Richard Caplan, Professor of International Relations, Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Oxford

  • Cedric de Coning, Senior Research Fellow, Research Group on Peace, Conflict and Development, Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI)

  • Lise Morjé Howard, Associate Professor of Government and International Relations Field Chair, Georgetown University

  • Daniel Hyslop, Director of Policy, Learning and the International Peacebuilding Advisory Team (IPAT), Interpeace

  • Katia Papagianni, Director of Policy and Mediation Support, Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue

  • Roland Paris, Professor of International Affairs, Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, University of Ottawa