Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Recognizing the Primacy of Politics in UN Peacebuilding

by Andrea Warnecke

This study scrutinizes the dichotomy between the political and non-political parts of the UN system and asks whether the UN system can conduct peacebuilding in contested intra-state settings irrespective of Security Council backing. It argues that the UN’s perennial pre-occupation with improving peacebuilding coherence across its bodies is bound up with the attempt to project greater political leverage vis-à-vis host state governments. The quest for peacebuilding reform has recently come full circle by acknowledging the fundamental dilemma of conducting intra-state peacebuilding in ‘non-cooperative’ environments as a challenge to be addressed at the political level of inter-governmental cooperation rather than through the non-political parts of the UN.

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