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 themeans***** of peacebuilding, but there is a severe lack of constructive research and debate on what theends*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. Thereforethe 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 Stamnesand Stein Sundstøl Eriksen (NUPI, Norway). The project was organized along three sub-projects which together formed the structure of the project:

image(bullet) Conceptsimage(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.

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