Liberal Peace and the Ethics of Peacebuilding

Led by J. Peter Burgess
Jan 2007 - Dec 2010

An increasing amount of research is being done on the means of peacebuilding, but there is a severe lack of constructive research and debate on what the ends of peacebuilding should be. The broad scope and range of methods of peacebuilding have here been developed but these lack a common theoretical framework for the coordination of their principles and the assessment of their results. Therefore the aim with the Liberal Peace and the Ethics if Peacebuilding project is to create a framework that would establish a conceptual, empirical and thematic basis for the ethical debate on peacebuilding. When pursuing this aim the project sought to focus on the following three objectives: improve the conceptual basis of the aim of peacebuilding; apply the conceptual basis to specific cases of interventions; synthesize the conceptual and the empirical dimensions of ethics in peacebuilding focusing on the particular issues of culture, power and gender. The project in particular focused on the following case countries: Bosnia-Hercegovina, Sudan, Afghanistan, DR.Congo, Guatemala, Sri Lanka and Somalia (Read more from the project proposal).
The project was set up as an international network with participants from other Norwegian and European institutions: Shahrbanou Tadjbakhsh (Sciences Po, Paris), Oliver Richmond (St. Andrew's University, Scotland), Lars Christie (MFA, Norway), Ole Jacob Sending, Eli Stamnes and Stein Sundstøl Eriksen (NUPI, Norway). The project was organized along three sub-projects which together formed the structure of the project:  


image(bullet) Concepts
image(bullet) Cases
image(bullet) Themes, Research Implications and Policy Recommendations


Each of the three sub-projects were hallmarked by an international workshop, bringing together experts and scholars from the disciplines of IR, philosophy, political science, economy, sociology, social anthropology and psychology in a common project. The Workshop series ended with a seminar in Oslo where the findings were presented by the project members to the wider public. The seminar also included a roundtable debate with distinguished guests from institutes, political parties, and government institutions in Norway.


With its findings the Liberal Peace and Ethics of Peacebuilding project have introduced innovative theoretical and conceptual developments as well as increased the awareness and improved the understanding of the ethical dimensions in peacebuilding theories and policies.The project has produced 14 academic peer-reviewed articles and 3 forthcoming book-chapters and one forthcoming book edited by Shahrbanou Tadjhabakshs that partially builds on work produced in the project. In addition, a great amount of popular articles have been published and 29 lecture / paper presentations has been made, including presentations made at the official project-workshops, but also presentations made in seminars and conferences world-wide as part of the projects aim of reaching out to a wider audience. The project also gave motivation and inspiration to the development of future project initiatives on peacebuilding.  


Other notable output from the project:


Forum for Peacebuilding Ethics (PeacE)

Within the aegis of the Project and with support from the Norwegian Peacebuilding Centre (NOREF) the web-based Forum for Peacebuilding Ethics (PeacE) was established as part of the research project, with the objective of integrating ethics in scholarly and political debate on peacebuilding. The initial launch took place at the UN-Millennium Plaza in New York 2009. The purpose with establishing a forum of this kind was to foster discussion about the ethical dilemmas that peacebuilding entail, encounters and produces. Hence, the forum is an arena for academics, policy-makers and practitioners to exchange ideas on this topic and its challenges. In addition to regular seminars, the Forum includes a webpage ( with an online discussion forum.


 ISA 2009 – Panel on the Ethics of Liberal Peacebuilding


A panel with representatives from the project was held during the Annual Convention of the International Studies Association (ISA) in New York 2009 in which project results and findings were disseminated through paper presentations. Among the presenters were: Oliver Richmond (St Andrews), Ole-Jacob Sending (NUPI), Stein S. Erikssen (NUPI) and Kristoffer Lidèn (PRIO). The panel was chaired by project leader J. Peter Burgess (PRIO), with Alex Bellamy from University of Queensland serving as a discussant.



Public events

In connection with the Workshop II held in Nicosia in 2008 a public seminar was arranged were project members discussed peacebuilding and ethics with invited policy makers, politicians and experts and findings from the project were applied to the ongoing peace process in Cyprus. With the launch of the PeacE forum a seminar was held in New York bringing together scholars and practitioners to discuss the role of ethics in peacebuilding. Among the distinguished speakers were: Roland Paris (University of Ottawa), Sally Fegan-Wyles (UN Peacebuilding Support Office), Karen Barnes (International Alert) and Rex Brynen (McGill University). A second seminar was held in Oslo at PRIO headquarters also in connection with the launch of the forum, with Jan Egeland(NUPI), Johan L. Løvald (former UN Peacebuilding Commission), Bjørn Førde (UNDP Oslo Governance Centre), Desmond McNeill (Centre for Development & Environment at UiO), Gro Nystuen (Council on Ethics, The Norwegian Government Pension Fund - Global) as notable participants.  



PhD Thesis

Lidén, Kristoffer (2014) Between Intervention and Sovereignty: Ethics of Liberal Peacebuilding and the Philosophy of Global Governance. PhD thesis, Department of Philosophy, Classics, History of Art and Ideas, University of Oslo, Oslo.

Peer-reviewed Journal Article

Tryggestad, Torunn L. (2010) The UN Peacebuilding Commission and Gender: A Case of Norm Reinforcement, International Peacekeeping 17(2): 159–171.
Lidén, Kristoffer (2009) Building Peace between Global and Local Politics: On the Cosmopolitical Ethics of Liberal Peacebuilding, International Peacekeeping 16(5): 616–634.
Lidén, Kristoffer; Roger Mac Ginty & Oliver P. Richmond (2009) Introduction: Beyond Northern Epistemologies of Peace: Peacebuilding Reconstructed?, International Peacekeeping 16(5): 587–598.
Tadjbakhsh, Shahrbanou (2009) Conflicted Outcomes and Values: (Neo)Liberal Peace in Central Asia and Afghanistan, International Peacekeeping 16(5): 635–651.
Richmond, Oliver P. (2009) A Post-liberal Peace: Eirenism and the Everyday, Review of International Studies 35: 557–580.
Burgess, J. Peter & Endre Begby (2009) Human Security and Liberal Peace, Public Reason 1(1): 91–104.

Book Chapter

Tadjbakhsh, Shahrbanou(2011) Introduction: Liberal Peace in Dispute Rethinking the Liberal Peace: External Models and Local Alternatives. : Routledge(1–17).
Tadjbakhsh, Shahrbanou(2011) Open Societies, Open Markets: Assumptions and Illusions Rethinking the Liberal Peace: External Models and Local Alternatives. : (19–36).
Tadjbakhsh, Shahrbanou(2011) Liberal Peace and the Dialogue of the Deaf in Afghanistan Rethinking the Liberal Peace: External Models and Local Alternatives. : (206–220).
Tadjbakhsh, Shahrbanou; & Richmond, Oliver P.(2011) Conclusion: Typologies and Modifications Proposed by Critical Approaches Rethinking the Liberal Peace: External Models and Local Alternatives. : (221–241).
Liden, Kristoffer(2011) Peace, Self-Governance and International Engagement: From Neo-Colonial to Post-Colonial Peacebuilding Rethinking the Liberal Peace: External Models and Local Alternatives. : (57–74).

Edited Volume

Tadjbakhsh, Shahrbanou (ed.) (2011) Rethinking the Liberal Peace: External Models and Local Alternatives. Milton Park: Routledge. Cass Series on Peacekeeping.

Popular Article

Lidén, Kristoffer (2009) The Problem of Culture, Forum for Peacebuilding Ethics, 1 November.
Lidén, Kristoffer (2008) En rettferdig kosmopolitikk [A Just Cosmopolitanism], Ny Tid, 17 October.

Conference Paper

Lidén, Kristoffer 2010 Global Peace by Analogy: Introduction, presented at Global Peace by Analogy, , 19 November.
Lidén, Kristoffer 2010 In Love with a Lie? Peacebuilding Ethics and the Political Premises of Reforming the International Peacebuilding Regime, presented at Annual Convention of the International Studies Association, , 19 February.
Lidén, Kristoffer 2009 Sovereignty and the Ethics of Liberal Peacebuilding, presented at Liberal Peace and the Ethics of Peacebuilding: Themes, , 9 November.
Lidén, Kristoffer 2009 Peace, Self-Governance and International Engagement: A Postcolonial Ethic of Liberal Peacebuilding, presented at 50th Annual Convention of the International Studies Association, , 15–18 February.
Lidén, Kristoffer 2009 Can Sovereignty be Built through Intervention? A Post-Westphalian Sovereignty Principle for Global Governance, presented at 50th Annual Convention of the International Studies Association, , 15–18 February.
Lidén, Kristoffer 2008Introduction on the Ethics of Liberal Peacebuilding, presented at The Ethics of Liberal Peacebuilding and the Cyprus peace process12 November.
Lidén, Kristoffer 2008 Postcolonialism and the Ethics of Liberal Peacebuilding, presented at Liberal Peace and the Ethics of Peacebuilding: Cases, , 21/11/2008.
Lidén, Kristoffer (2008) A Postcolonial Ethic of Liberal PeacebuildingCERI Program for Peace and Human Security, Science Po, Paris, France, 16–17 June 2008.
Lidén, Kristoffer 2008 Peacebuilding and the social ontology of global politics, presented at Thinking With(Out) Borders: International Political Theory in the 21st Century, , 12–13 June 2008.
Lidén, Kristoffer (2007) The Ethics of Peacebuilding, presented at AJEI workshop on Conflict, Negotiation, Cooperation, India, 1 March.

Book Review

Lidén, Kristoffer (2010) Review of Revision or Revolution? At the Crossroads of Peacebuilding Theory, in NOREF Book Review 1–3.


Related pages