Antonia Witt, Jonas Wolff, Melanie Coni-Zimmer, Sabine Mannitz, Sophia Birchinger | 2024

Coercion in Peacebuilding: A Conceptual Framework

In: PRIF Working Papers No. 61, 2024, Peace Researcg Institute Frankfurt

Interventions aimed at building peace continue to be a crucial element of international politics and order. This has prompted extensive research into the conditions for successful intervention practices and the normative frictions interventions often engender within target countries. Scholars have tracked the evolving approaches to international peacebuilding in several ‚turns‘ from a liberal to a local, robust, pragmatic, and spatial focus, not to forget the debates about blurring lines between peacebuilding and peacekeeping. A pivotal question arising from these debates concerns the role of coercion in peacebuilding: Are we witnessing a shift towards more coercive (robust) approaches, or has the criticism of liberal peacebuilding and the increasing role of Southern/non-Western peacebuilding actors led to a trend of less coercive (light footprint) strategies with an increased attention to local ownership and inclusivity? Building on a review of conceptual literature on coercion, this working paper proposes a comprehensive conceptual framework to explore the role of coercion in peacebuilding. It examines the intricate relationship between coercion and peace and delineates diverse manifestations of coercion in peacebuilding. The conceptual framework is illustrated through the examination of the implementation of the African anti-coup regime and its coercive character, to spell out one example. In conclusion, this working paper emphasizes the necessity for a systematic consideration of coercion in peacebuilding research, highlighting its significance in shaping the outcomes and effectiveness of international interventions.

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