Constructivism
in United Nations peace operations and International Relations theory
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This chapter describes constructivism’s distinguishing features and how it has informed existing research on UN peacekeeping. Focusing on core constructivist concepts like norms, culture, and identity, the chapter explains that peacekeeping scholars within this approach tend to focus on ideational influences emanating from outside the UN system or on the role of intersubjective knowledge within the UN. The chapter then draws on evidence from the UN mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) to identify areas where constructivism can further improve our understanding of UN peace operations. These include the process by which peacekeepers interpret and implement norms at the micro level; the ways in which peace operations reshape local norms, identities, and cultures, and vice versa; and, finally, the relationship between contemporary peacekeeping practices and shifting normative and political dynamics at the macro level.

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