Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO)
Starting from the premise that international statebuilding efforts over the past three decades have relied on flawed theoretical assumptions and failed to achieve many of their objectives, this Handbook is a cornucopia of critical analyses and perspectives. With an emphasis on peace and conflict, it encompasses a wide array of international interventions where statebuilding is a component, like peacebuilding, military intervention, counterinsurgency, security sector reform, civilian protection, transitional justice, development and humanitarian action. Instead of systematically analysing their effects, the book mainly focuses on how and why they did what they did. To the extent that the chapters address shortcomings of previous interventions from this angle, they nonetheless also contribute to theory on how the problems might be corrected. A key to such prescription is the study of what types of knowledge are at play in the interventions, which is among the book's major strengths. Notably focusing on the international aspects of statebuilding, other themes that are covered include the interplay between international and domestic actors, gender dynamics, new technologies, complexity, problems of legitimacy and justice, and spatial and temporal dimensions. The book is testimony to the vivid debates in Journal of Statebuilding and Intervention, where Lemay-Hébert served as Editor and can be seen as a sequel to the Routledge Handbook on International Statebuilding from 2013. If there were to be a third volume in this 'series', I would have liked to see more comparative analyses on different types and effects of contemporary statebuilding, situating the international dimensions in even broader sociological perspectives while drawing on theoretical insights from the current volume.