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Taking Sides In Peacekeeping: Impartiality And The Future Of The United Nations


United Nations peacekeeping has undergone radical transformation in the new millennium. 'Taking Sides in Peacekeeping' explores this transformation and its implications, in what is the first conceptual and empirical study of impartiality in UN peacekeeping. The book challenges dominant scholarly approaches that conceive of norms as linear and static, conceptualizing impartiality as a 'composite' norm, one that is not free-standing but an aggregate of other principles-each of which can change and is open to contestation. Drawing on a large body of primary evidence, it uses the composite norm to trace the evolution of impartiality, and to illuminate the macro-level politics surrounding its institutionalization at the UN, as well as the micro-level politics surrounding its implementation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, site of the largest and costliest peacekeeping mission in UN history. This book reveals that, despite a veneer of consensus, impartiality is in fact highly contested. As the collection of principles it refers to has expanded to include human rights and civilian protection, deep disagreements have arisen over what keeping peace impartially actually means. Beyond the semantics, the book shows how this contestation, together with the varying expectations and incentives created by the norm, has resulted in perverse and unintended consequences that have politicized peacekeeping and, in some cases, effectively converted UN forces into one warring party among many. The author assesses the implications of this radical transformation for the future of peacekeeping and for the UN's role as guarantor of international peace and security.


United Nations, peacekeeping, world politics

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Oxford University Press


The introduction of this work has been made freely available courtesy of Oxford University Press.

This material was originally published in Taking Sides In Peacekeeping: Impartiality And The Future Of The United Nations by Emily Paddon Rhoads, and has been reproduced by permission of Oxford University Press. For permission to reuse this material, please visit

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