Chaire Raoul-Dandurand en études stratégiques et diplomatiques (uqam)

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Peace Missions and their Critics

International Conference organized by the Centre for Peace Missions and Humanitarian Studies at the Raoul Dandurand Chair of UQAM
Deadline for submitting proposals: June 20th, 2013
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Call for Papers (The conference will largely be held in French, but proposals are accepted in French and English)

Peace Missions and their Critics

International Conference organized by the Centre for Peace Missions and Humanitarian Studies at the Raoul Dandurand Chair of UQAM

University of Quebec at Montreal, Quebec, Canada
November 28th-29th, 2013

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According to several analysts and research centres, organized violence and armed conflicts are in decline. To explain this trend, the Human Security Report points to the importance of peace missions that implement prevention and conflict resolution strategies. Other analysts are more skeptical and suggest that the decline is due to the methods used to codify conflicts, to interpret the data and the classical conceptualization of civil wars. One thing seems certain: both military and non-military means for peace missions are being critically called into question – so much so that their critics argue that peace missions are in crisis. These debates have developed in a context where the traditional model of peacekeeping has largely been replaced by the more ambitious concept of peacebuilding that conceives and plans the transformation of the societies where peace missions are deployed. For other researchers still, the 'crisis' issue is located in the 'field', in places where local acts of resistance, opposition, and negotiation to peace missions are observable. If there is a 'crisis', it is situated in the debates over the dominance of the 'liberal peace' that structures and informs all peace operations. Indeed, the critics denounce the imposition of the liberal peace model and its social engineering objectives. Yet, these debates have remained largely theoretical and the exact nature of the crisis largely unknown. Is it a crisis of legitimacy, of the effectiveness and/or capacity of missions to consolidate peace, or a problem inherent to the multilateral forms of international cooperation? What do the signs and practices of local resistance and opposition to international peace mission mean? Where does this resistance come from?


  • Bruno Charbonneau, Director, Centre for Peace Missions and Humanitarian Studies, Raoul Dandurand Chair, UQAM
  • Charles-Philippe David, Chairholder, Raoul Dandurand Chair and Professor of Political Science, UQAM


The conference seeks to examine the 'crisis' of peace missions, the interplay between power and counter-power (or power and resistance), and the various forms that peace operations can take from both international and local standpoints in order to debate for whom and for what, exactly, is peace kept, imposed, and/or consolidated. Whether one studies the African Union, the European Union, or the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie, the advantages and disadvantages of multilateral cooperation with (or without) the United Nations are complex and entail political, legal, normative, logistical, and organizational aspects. Moreover, calls to integrate and respond to local demands are more pressing and found in a double context: 1) in theory where critical approaches (notably postcolonial and poststructuralist) have condemned the hypocrisy and the perverse effects of the 'liberal peace'; and 2) in practice where local activities of resistance, opposition, and negotiation suggest the concrete consequences of paternalist, neocolonial or imperialist accusations. The concept of local ownership, resilience, empowerment, reconstruction, reconciliation, resistance, and a few others are concepts that have become increasingly important both in the academic literature and in humanitarian milieus. Some crisis of multilateralism is generally admitted, but at the same time the resort to various multinational channels for conflict resolution keeps on increasing. What does all this mean for security governance and for humanitarian action? Are these concepts and practices of resistance deployed in the context of a legitimacy crisis? Do they indicate or imply a fundamental critique of the international legitimacy (or sovereignty) to impose or promote peace? Or do the critics and practices of resistance doubt the international capacity, effectiveness, and willingness to respond to local needs? Is it the end or is it the reformulation of the 'liberal peace' by 'civil society' or 'local resistance'?


Theme 1. The Nature of the Crisis

  • Legitimacy of peace missions
  • Effectiveness of peace missions
  • Multilateral dynamics, modes of intervention and international cooperation
  • Regional organizations and the UN
  • Power struggles over the conceptualization and deployment of missions


Theme 2. Peace Missions and Local Populations

  • Relations between local and international actors
  • Resistance, opposition, negotiation to international intervention
  • Power and counter-power dynamics
  • Local perceptions of peace missions
  • 'Bottom-up' approaches and their critics
  • Humanitarian aid and activity in post-conflict peace settings


Theme 3. Theoretical and Methodological Issues

  • Conceptual dichotomies and their effects (e.g. local/international, peace/war, intervention/sovereignty, power/resistance)
  • Methodological issues in conflict situation
  • Methodological issues facing local resistance



Deadline to submit paper proposals: June 20th, 2013


Please include the following information (300 words limit):

  • Name of author(s)
  • Title and institutional affiliation
  • Contact information
  • Title of presentation
  • Abstract

Please send your proposal in Word format to Bruno Charbonneau, UQAM, via email at:


The conference will largely be held in French, but proposals are accepted in French and English.


  • June 20th, 2013: deadline to submit your proposal
  • August 2013: selection and notification to paper presenters
  • November 1st, 2013: deadline to submit your paper to conference organizers
  • November 28th-29th, 2013: conference, Université du Québec à Montréal