Concluding reflections
International Relations theory and the study of UN peace operations
in United Nations peace operations and International Relations theory
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UN peace operations have, since their inception, touched on core issues and concepts at the heart of the study of international relations: conflict and cooperation; sovereignty and intervention; norms and norm diffusion; the use and utility of military force; and the changing character of armed conflict. To study UN peacekeeping, therefore, is also to study international politics and, by extension, to engage in debates about the bases for international order and the prospects for international society. Although the scope and scale of UN peace operations have evolved over time, the study of UN operations needs to factor in not just discontinuities but also important elements of continuity in the history and practice of UN peacekeeping. The experience of UN operations is rich, diverse, and multilayered. The investigation and deeper understanding of that experience are certain to benefit – as the present volume demonstrates – from the application of different theoretical lenses and a range of methodological tools.

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