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July 23, 2018

in Thomas G. Weiss and Sam Dawes, eds., The Oxford Handbook of the United Nations, 2nd ed. (Oxford University Press, 2018).

Peacebuilding – helping societies make the transition from civil violence to a durable peace – has been the United Nations’ principal security activity since the end of the Cold War. Although peacebuilding methods have been refined during years of trial and error, it remains an uncertain science, yielding mixed results. But for all its shortcomings, the international peacebuilding "project" remains one of the most remarkable exercises in collective conflict management the world has ever witnessed. This chapter identifies the principal features of the UN’s peacebuilding operations, examines the record of peacebuilding since the end of the Cold War, and describes some of the main issues and controversies surrounding these missions.

October 28, 2016

I had the pleasure of moderating a discussion on this subject, hosted by the Global Centre for Pluralism on October 27, 2016.

December 17, 2014


The greatest risk to United Nations peace operations is not operational failure, but the growing divergence of opinion among countries that mandate, finance and supply personnel to these operations regarding the purposes and practices of peacekeeping itself.

The UN currently runs 16 peacekeeping missions with roughly 103,000 uniformed personnel and 16,000 civilians – along with another 11 peacebuilding and political missions consisting mainly of civilian personnel. Contrary to those who suggest that UN peace operations are in decline, the chart below shows that business is booming: The number of uniformed personnel deployed on these missions has never been greater (click on image for larger version).


        Number of Uniformed UN Peacekeeping Personnel, 1991-2014. Source: UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations.

The problem, however, is that business is literally booming: More and more, peacekeepers are finding themselves in situations where there i...

April 1, 2010

Review of International Studies 36:2 (April 2010), pp. 337-365

Abstract: Liberal peacebuilding has become the target of considerable criticism. Although much of this criticism is warranted, a number of scholars and commentators have come to the opinion that liberal peacebuilding is either fundamentally destructive, or illegitimate, or both. On close analysis, however, many of these critiques appear to be exaggerated or misdirected. At a time when the future of peacebuilding is uncertain, it is important to distinguish between justified and unjustified criticisms, and to promote a more balanced debate on the meaning, shortcomings and prospects of liberal peacebuilding.

Special commendation, British International Studies Association-RIS Best Article Prize

Reprinted in David J. Francis, ed., When War Ends: Building Peace in Divided Communities (New York: Routledge: 2012)

Reprinted in Susanna Campbell, David Chandler and Meera Sabaratnam, eds., A Liberal Peace? The Problems and Practices...

August 1, 2009

Co-edited with Edward Newman and Oliver Richmond (UNU/Brookings, 2009)

This volume explores and critiques the "liberal" premise of contemporary peacebuilding: the promotion of democracy, market-based economic reforms, and a range of other institutions associated with modern states as a driving force for building peace.

"A 'must read' for scholars and practitioners alike."
     --Richard Caplan, Oxford University

Publisher's website

July 1, 2009

Co-edited with Timothy D. Sisk (Routledge, 2009)
"Roland Paris and Timothy Sisk have compiled the essential guide to understanding the inherent contradictions that lie at the heart of the statebuilding enterprise. Drawing on a range of contemporary cases the volume's contributors expertly dissect the dilemmas raised by the challenges of coordination, security, political economy, institutional design, and autonomy. Students, analysts or practitioners looking to reflect on the process of statebuilding will find no better place to start their enquiry."
        --Paul D. Williams, George Washington University
Publisher's website

February 20, 2009

Presentation at the Launch of the Forum for Peacebuilding Ethics, New York

The idea of developing an ongoing conversation between academics and policy professionals on the
ethical aspects of peacebuilding is both timely and important – and I’m delighted to be a part of this

I have been asked to say a few words about “Ethical Dilemmas and the Contradictions of Peacebuilding.” Of course, peacebuilding is an extraordinarily complex enterprise, full of uncertainties, tensions and contradictions. Timothy Sisk and I recently produced an edited volume on the contradictions of peacebuilding, focusing on the practical policy dilemmas they create for peacebuilding agencies, both at headquarters and in the field.

Dilemmas are characterized by inconsistent or opposing imperatives – that is, the apparent need to do two (or more) things that are in conflict with each other. In some cases, these dilemmas involve ethical elements, or questions about what is the right thing to do.


August 1, 2004

Cambridge University Press, 2004

Winner of the 2007 Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order, the 2005 Chadwick F. Alger Award (International Studies Association) and the 2004 Eugene M. Kayden Award (University of Colorado)

"Few studies of peacekeeping and peacebuilding merit the description 'breakthrough.' This is one of them." --Michael Pugh, Director, University of Plymouth and Editor of the International Peacekeeping journal

Publisher's website

German edition: Wenn die Waffen schweigen: Friedenskonsolidierung nach innerstaatlichen Gewaltkonf likten (Hamburg Editions, 2007)

Introduction translated into Spanish

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Roland Paris
Graduate School of Public and International Affairs

University of Ottawa

120 University Private, Room 6053

Ottawa, Ontario, K1Y 3M5, Canada

+1 (613) 562-5800 x4047

© Roland Paris 2020