King's College London

Research portal

Whose Peace? Local Ownership and UN Peacebuilding: Paper Presented at 'The Future of Statebuilding: Ethics, Power and Responsibility in International Relations, University of Westminster, 9-11 October 2009.

Research output: Contribution to journalConference paper

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)322-365
Number of pages44
JournalJournal of intervention and statebuilding (trykt utg.)
Published10 Feb 2011

King's Authors


In recent years, there has been an increasing emphasis on the
participation of national actors in United Nations peace operations,
reflecting what has become a near orthodox commitment to ‘local
ownership.’ Advocates of local ownership assert that it: (1) increases
the legitimacy of UN peacebuilding efforts; (2) increases the
sustainability of peacebuilding activities after the departure of the
UN; and (3) increases democratic governance in post-conflict states.
While such thinking about local ownership has informed UN
peacebuilding policy to a large extent, the UN has, to date, assumed
these positive benefits without critically examining the causal
mechanisms that allegedly produce them, specifying the conditions
under which this correlation holds, or providing convincing evidence
for these assertions. Moreover, exactly what local ownership is, what
is being owned, and who local ‘owners’ are remain unclear. Indeed a
closer examination of ownership’s relation with legitimacy,
sustainability, and democratization reveal a plethora of
contradictions that imply that local ownership may in fact decrease
the UN’s ability to deliver peacekeeping results. Crucially, however,
the UN persists in adopting a local ownership approach to
peacebuilding, suggesting that it does so because it is normatively
appropriate rather than operationally effective.

View graph of relations

© 2020 King's College London | Strand | London WC2R 2LS | England | United Kingdom | Tel +44 (0)20 7836 5454