What are the ethical implications of the shortcomings of liberal peacebuilding operations? This article addresses the problem by investigating the normative premises of liberal peacebuilding
and its critics. Three ideal types of peacebuilding are singled out to illuminate the normative logic of current ‘revisionist’ proposals. These are: ‘re-liberal peacebuilding’ which prescribes a more coercive approach; ‘social peacebuilding’ that emphasizes local agency and the promotion of socioeconomic rights; and ‘multicultural peacebuilding’ that roots peace in indigenous norms and institutions. These alternatives are assessed with regard to their ability to promote both the autonomy and the basic needs of the affected population. It is concluded that only ‘social peacebuilding’ passes this test. It exemplifies a model of global governance where a cosmopolitan human rights agenda is consistent with the communitarian defence of political autonomy and cultural diversity.