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Sarah von Billerbeck: Whose Peace? Local Ownership and United Nations Peace...

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King's College London, Waterloo campus

Franklin Wilkins Bldg, Rm 1.10

Stamford St.

London

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ABSTRACT

Recent years have seen an increasing emphasis on local ownership in United Nations peacekeeping. Advocates assert that it boosts the legitimacy and sustainability of peacekeeping by helping to preserve the principles of self-determination and non-imposition in an activity that can contravene them. However, whether this assertion holds in practice has not been backed up by careful conceptual and empirical analysis.

Dr von Billerbeck fills this gap by mapping the discourse, understandings, and operationalization of local ownership in UN peacekeeping, both from the perspective of the UN and local actors. Drawing on the case of the UN peacekeeping operation in DR Congo and a number of other cases, she shows that despite its regular invocation of local ownership discourse, the UN operationalizes ownership in restrictive ways that are intended to protect the achievement of operational goals but which consequently limit self-determination and increase external imposition on the host country. This gap between the rhetoric and reality of ownership suggests that the UN uses local ownership primarily as a discursive tool for legitimation, one intended to reconcile conflicting normative and operational imperatives that it faces. However, because its actions do not match its rhetoric, the UN's attempts to generate legitimacy through discourse appear to fall flat, particularly in the eyes of local actors, and because of contradictions in the ways that the UN operationalizes local ownership, it also inhibits the achievement of its operational goals as well.

Chaired by Christine Cheng

BIOGRAPHY

Dr Sarah von Billerbeck is Lecturer in Politics and International Relations. Her research focuses on post-conflict peacekeeping and peacebuilding, civil war, the United Nations, international organizations, and legitimacy. In 2016, she was awarded an ESRC Future Research Leaders Grant to undertake a two-year project entitled 'Self-Legitimation by International Organizations,' in which she is conducting a comparative study of the UN, NATO, and the World Bank. She is also interested in multilateralism and peace operations and methodological issues in studying the UN. She previously worked for the American Refugee Committee in Guinea, the UN peacekeeping mission in D.R. Congo (MONUC), and the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia in Lebanon. She is Reviews Editor for International Peacekeeping, and an Associate Member of Nuffield College, University of Oxford; an Executive Committee Member-at-Large of the International Studies Association's International Organization Section; a Steering Committee Member of OxPeace, University of Oxford; and a Trustee of the Oxford Peace Research Trust.

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King's College London, Waterloo campus

Franklin Wilkins Bldg, Rm 1.10

Stamford St.

London

United Kingdom

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