Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: Taking sides : impartiality, norm contestation and the politics of UN peacekeeping
Author: Paddon, Emily
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2013
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Full text unavailable from EThOS. Please try the link below.
Access from Institution:
Impartiality has long been a core norm of United Nations peacekeeping. However, since 2000 the dominant conception of impartiality has changed, leading to more coercive forms of peacekeeping. Claims to impartial authority are no longer based exclusively on terms to which all parties consent. Instead, they are premised on a more ambitious and expansive set of norms related to human rights, around which consensus is presumed but not always affirmed. This dissertation critically examines the change in both the conception and practice of impartiality, which, it argues, is an integral part of the emergence of a more assertive liberal internationalism. In doing so, it challenges dominant constructivist approaches within IR that conceive of norms as linear and static. It advances a framework for a multi-level analysis of impartiality as a “composite” and “contested” norm. Through this framework it elucidates the macro-level politics surrounding the norm’s institutionalisation at the UN, as well as the micro-level politics surrounding its implementation in the specific case of the UN mission in Congo (MONUC). The analysis of the processes of both institutionalisation and implementation reveals an absence of consensus over the norm itself, and over the purposes of and actions involved in contemporary peacekeeping. This contestation, together with varying expectations and incentives created by the norm amongst local actors, frequently results in unintended consequences, which are contrary to the norm’s original intent. And yet, despite these consequences, the very nature of assertive impartiality makes it difficult for those who claim such authority to change course. Given that the legitimacy of peacekeeping derives both from whether it is seen to reflect and promote shared values, as from the degree to which it is actually effective, this difficulty raises troubling questions for peacekeeping itself and for the UN, the institution to which it has become so symbolically linked. This dissertation argues that, ultimately, the UN’s role may be to reflect, rather than to resolve, the differences of normative interpretation among its member states. It concludes that a more practical and prudent conception of impartiality – one which recognises that impartiality is necessarily and inextricably political – will be necessary if scholars and practitioners alike are to navigate the normative tensions inherent to a more assertive liberal international order.
Supervisor: Welsh, Jennifer Sponsor: Overseas Research Scheme ; Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation ; Canadian Defence Fund ; Jeanne Sauvé Foundation ; Department of International Relations
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Political science ; International studies ; United Nations ; peacekeeping ; impartiality ; norms ; Congo