Although UN peacekeeping fits the definition of an ‘international institution’, liberal institutionalism has not been the dominant theory in the literature. However, several aspects of UN peacekeeping – coalition-building in the UN Security Council, domestic pressures for intervention, and troop contributions – have been studied by drawing on liberal institutionalist concepts and insights. A particular difficulty is presented by the consensual and secretive nature of Security Council negotiations, which makes its voting record less informative than in other international organisations and requires other sources of data, such as on the sponsorship of peacekeeping resolutions. The analysis of sponsorship behaviour reveals that the dominant coalition consisting of the US and European states has drafted the majority of peacekeeping resolutions. The coalition has been quite successful at ensuring the smooth adoption of the resolutions. Yet recently, more states – including Russia and China – have abstained on peacekeeping resolutions, suggesting a weakening of the dominant coalition’s position. As new sources of data emerge (for example, on the content of peacekeeping resolutions), we can expect further applications of liberal institutionalism.
The chapter discusses how practice theories have informed analyses of peacekeeping. Following a brief overview of practice theories, a theoretical agenda that has started with relying on the works of Pierre Bourdieu but has since diversified, the chapter argues that such approaches lend themselves particularly well to integrating practitioner perspectives into academic writing on peacekeeping. The chapter also surveys how practice theoretical approaches have benefited from close conversations with constructivism and examines this by summarising research making understandable considerable differences in implementing the protection of civilians. It closes by arguing that practice theories promise innovative and often micro-level accounts of peacekeeping dynamics just as peacekeeping operations become increasingly varied and experimental.
This chapter takes a rational-choice institutionalist approach to UN peacekeeping and shows that the principal-agent model can offer valuable heuristic insights for analysing the most pressing challenges to date. It highlights the importance of studying preference heterogeneities among UN Security Council (UNSC) members, information asymmetries between the UNSC, the UN Secretariat and troops in the field, and the capacity and willingness of the involved principals to install credible and effective monitoring mechanisms. The chapter particularly focuses on the value of conceptualising so-called chains of delegation to get grip on the politics of control in the increasingly complex web of agents in UN peacekeeping. In doing so, it focuses on two challenges in particular: first, information flows between the UN headquarters in New York and the missions in-theatre; and, second, the difficulty that comes with the increased involvement of regional organisations in peace operations.
Realist scholarship and peacekeeping scholarship are rarely brought together, and this is to the detriment of both fields, suggests this chapter. This chapter shows how IR realism would help to enrich and boost the study of peacekeeping, and, conversely, how the study of peacekeeping may provide fertile new ground for realist investigations of world politics. The chapter reiterates the fact that peacekeeping concerns some of the most fundamental questions of political science such as peace, war, and order, and that realism may help significantly to broaden the scope of peacekeeping studies to macro-political questions. The chapter discusses different varieties of realism, and suggests that, if there is to be a new distribution of power within the international system, then realism may offer particularly timely insights to study the future development of peacekeeping operations in a multipolar world.
This chapter applies a sociological institutionalist frame to UN peacekeeping and explains the role of norms, rules, and culture in shaping the behaviour of peacekeeping actors. More specifically, sociological institutionalism focuses on actors as social agents whose behaviour is culturally specific and constructed around ideas of appropriateness; we can thus better understand not only why UN peacekeeping takes the form that it does but also how and why it changes over time through an examination of the internal institutional environment of the UN and the self-images and values of UN staff. These dynamics are illustrated empirically with a discussion of local ownership in UN peacekeeping that demonstrates how UN staff engage in inefficient or contradictory behaviours because of their need to perceive that their actions are appropriate and legitimate and to remain aligned with their own institutional standards.
UN peacekeeping is a core pillar of the multilateral peace and security architecture and a multi-billion-dollar undertaking reshaping lives around the world. In spite of this, the engagement between the literatures on UN peacekeeping and International Relations theory has been a slow development. This has changed in recent years, and there is now a growing interest tin examining UN peacekeeping from various theoretical perspectives to yield insights about how international relations are changing and developing. The volume is the first comprehensive overview of multiple theoretical perspectives on UN peacekeeping. There are two main uses of this volume. First, this volume provides the reader with insights into different theoretical lenses and how they can be applied practically to understanding UN peacekeeping better. Second, through case studies in each chapter, the volume provides practical examples of how International Relations theories – such as realism, liberal institutionalism, rational choice institutionalism, sociological institutionalism, feminist institutionalism, constructivism, critical security studies, practice theory, and complexity theory – can be applied to a specific policy issue. Applying these theories enhances our understanding of why UN peacekeeping, as an international institution, has evolved in a particular direction and functions the way that it does. The insights generated in the volume can also help shed light on other international institutions as well as the broader issue of international co-operation.
Although the literature on UN peacekeeping has been growing steadily in the last three decades, the engagement with International Relations theory has been slow. However, in the last few years, the scholarly attention to UN peacekeeping from a range of theoretical starting points has been burgeoning. The chapter first discusses this development, provides a brief overview of the history of peacekeeping, and outlines how peacekeeping is governed. It then summarises the main strands in the literature on peacekeeping and the accompanying methodological development of peacekeeping scholarship. Finally, the chapter provides a brief introduction to each of the chapters of the book.
Chapter 4 continues in the same vein as the previous chapter but shifts the focus to the threats themselves. The chapter considers how danger and destructiveness are constituted as self-evident features of various nefarious acts executed by a diverse range of actors that present salient and credible threats in the present as well as for the future. The analysis contained within this chapter identifies a number of discursive tactics, such as the way in which ‘cyber-threats’ are synonymised with physical threats (bombs, bullets, etc.), as well as the use of military historical analogies. As with the previous chapter, an effort is made not only to capture the sentiment of the dominant position regarding cyber-threats but also those divergent moments and dissident voices that co exist alongside them.
Chapter 5 draws together the empirical and theoretical work to reflect on the importance of the internet security industry in the construction of cybersecurity knowledge and the role relationships between private entities and professionals of politics play in the sedimentation of cybersecurity as analogous with national security. I begin by highlighting the broad homogeneity that exists between the expert discourse that I have studied and the ‘dominant threat frame’ identified by others such as Dunn Cavelty (2008) before theorising as to why this is and what impact it has on a broader process of knowledge construction. To achieve this I pay particular attention to the positon and raison d’être of the industry I have studied as well as the formation of communities of mutual recognition that have provided mutual benefit for both the industry and the state. I conclude that the arrival of the ‘technological age’ poses challenges to the traditional Weberian model of security governance. Subsequently, there has been an expansion and reorganisation of the security dispositif to more fully include private expertise as a means of overcoming a sovereignty gap and allowing for the continuation of a strategy of neoliberal governance.