Research page

Timeline: 2018-2021

Funding organisation: SNSF
Granted fund: 709'352.00

Project Description

The field of International Relations has long been involved in the study of “normative transformation” – i.e. with the ways in which norms with universal ambitions, such as human rights, are “projected” onto states and there “internalized” by local actors. Much less is known, however, about how these interpretations are in turn fed back up to the global level. By focusing on understandings of peacebuilding in China, Japan and Russia, this project seeks to study the manner in which both top-down and bottom-up dynamics influence the nature, content, and direction of normative change. In doing so, it advances a new theoretical and methodological framework that seeks to offer an innovative contribution to contemporary scholarship on norm diffusion, the role of rising powers in global governance, and the (re)shaping of international order.

Mainstream peacebuilding scholarship, which is predominantly Anglophone and ideologically embedded in the “liberal peace” paradigm, pays little attention to peacebuilding practices undertaken by non-Western countries. This project seeks to critically compare and contrast the normative and practical underpinnings of what the project calls the “global peacebuilding order” by focusing specifically on the three case-study countries and their regional spheres of influence. Indeed, China has been increasingly involved in peacebuilding activities in Africa, Russia is active in the Caucasus and the Middle East, and Japan has recently undertaken a comprehensive reform in national security legislation which now allows the Japanese Self-Defense Force to take a more proactive role in UN peace operations. What is more, the three countries are also key players in contemporary security dynamics in Central and East Asia.

In terms of deliverables, the project will produce a vibrant and interactive webpage that links peacebuilding scholars and practitioners, four to five scholarly articles published in peer-reviewed journals, an edited volume that offers reactions to the project’s findings from key academics and practitioners in China, Japan and Russia, and a set of accessible issue briefs. Drawing on the research teams’ extensive network of peacebuilding scholars and practitioners in Beijing, Tokyo and Moscow, the project will confront practitioners in Geneva and New York with “alternative” visions of peacebuilding maintained by academics, decision-makers and the general public in the three countries of study.

EN Project Summary

CN Project Summary

JP Project Summary

RU Project Summary

Project Photos

Asian Perspectives of Peacebuilding Session at Geneva Peace Week 2019
Asian Perspectives of Peacebuilding Session at Geneva Peace Week 2019
Stockholm Forum on Peace and Development 2020, Webinar with Kazushige Kobayashi and Xinyu Yuan


A part of the project's case studies on Chinese and Japanese peacebuilding policy is published as two open-access journal articles for the special issue section "East Asian Approaches to Peacebuilding" of Pathways to Peace and Security, Vol. 58, No. 1, 2020. Pathways to Peace and Security is a journal published by the Primakov Institute of World Economy and International Relations (IMEMO) of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow. 


Event title: Who Are the New Peacebuilding Actors and What Do They Want? Stockholm Forum on Peace and Development 2020

  • Date: Monday 18 May 2020

  • Description: The webinar addressed the following questions: Who are the new peacebuilding actors and how do they understand peacebuilding? And what may the likely impact of the COVID-19 pandemic be on these new peacebuilding actors? The objective was to discuss how different countries understand peacebuilding, and how this influences their approaches.

Event title: Competing global narratives: COVID19 and beyond. Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP). 

  • Date: Friday 5 June 2020

  • Description: This webinar was jointly organized by the GCSP and the MGIMO University and discussed how the COVID-19 narratives differ in Russia, China, the United States and Europe, and explored if there was any hope to find common ground and revive international cooperation.

Event title: China Middle East Relations Post COVID-19: Opportunities and Challenges.

  • Date: Monday 29 June 2020. 

  • Description: This webinar looked at the longer-term relations that might ensue from this period of COVID-19 and China's growing activities in the MENA region. It addressed questions such as: Can China play a greater role in brokering peace deals to resolve conflicts in the region? Can foreign powers cooperate rather than compete in the socioeconomic and security developments of the region? And, How will the region’s traditional partners, the US and Europe, react to China’s ambitions in the region?

Events Summary of the Project

15-16 October 2021, Conference on Peace and Security in Times of Transition: Socialist and Post-Socialist States & Development of International Peacekeeping Since 1945. Moscow, Russia.

Co-organized by the German Historical Institute, Moscow, Harvard University, Asia Center, and Moscow State Institute of International Relations.

  • Kazushige Kobayashi presented his paper Shadow Liberalism of an 'Illiberal' Conflict Manager: Russia and the Transformation of Global Peacebuilding Order.

  • Xinyu presented her paper Chinese Approach to Peacebuilding?

6 November 2019, Geneva Peace Week Geneva, CH.
Kazu spoke at the Geneva Peace Week’s event “Peacebuilding: Perspectives from China, Korea, and Japan”. The team interviewed key stakeholders who had travelled to Geneva to attend the conference. 

September - November, 2019, Moscow, Russia.
Kazu conducted fieldwork in Russia. He attended the seminars on peacebuilding, Africa, and development cooperation organized by the Valdai Discussion Club.

  • Kazu made a presentation at the the 12th Russian International Studies Association (RISA) Convention “The World of the Regions vs. the Regions of the World” 21-22 October, 2019, held at the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Moscow State Institute of International Relations.

  • He conducted interviews with 17 officials and scholars from various institutions. Dissemination of the project and navigation of potential collaborators.

11-14 September 2019, the 13th Pan-European Conference on International Relations (EISA), Sofia, Bulgaria.
Presentation of preliminary findings (presentation given by Kazu).

June-July, 2019, Beijing and Shanghai, China.
Xinyu conducted fieldwork in China. Here she attended the Peace Forum of China, 2019, in Beijing. Xinyu also attended the lecture given by former Chinese ambassador to South Africa.

  • Interviews were conducted with 22 informants, from Chinese universities, think tanks, and governmental units. Dissemination of the project and navigation of potential collaborators.

June, 2019, NEW YORK, USA. 
Keith and Oliver conducted fieldwork in New York. Here they interviewed key policy makers from the United Nations and mission officials. 

22-24 May 2019, OECD Boulogne, Paris, France.
Xinyu and Keith made a presentation on China’s engagement in fragile and/or conflict-affected situations, at The Task Meeting of the International Network on Conflict and Fragility (INCAF) of the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC).

  • Thematic Session III: Collective learning: Financing for Stability – Role of China’s Engagement in Fragile and/or Conflict-affected Situations.

9 November 2018, OECD Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI), Rome, Italy.
Kazu participated in the workshop “The EU and Resilience: interrogating theory, policies and practice” organized by The Comprehensive Capacity-building in Eastern Neighbourhood andCentral Asia: research integration, impact governance and sustainable communities (COMPASS) project led by Professor Elena Korosteleva of the University of Kent.

2-4 November 2018, Japan Association of International Relations (JAIR) Annual Convention 2018, Omiya, Japan.
Kazu participated in the Japan Association of International Relations (JAIR) Annual Convention 2018, Omiya, Japan.

1 November 2018, Research Seminar at Waseda University, Tokyo, Japan.
Kazu participated in an informal workshop on peace operations organized by Professor Yuji Uesugi of Waseda University, attended by key Japanese policy makers and defence officers.

27-28 October 2018, Peace Studies Association of Japan (PSAJ) Conference Autumn 2018 at Ryukoku University, Kyoto, Japan.
Kazu participated in the Peace Studies Association of Japan (PSAJ) Conference Autumn 2018 at Ryukoku University, Kyoto, Japan.