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  • Print publication year: 2008
  • Online publication date: January 2010

8 - The systematisation of international governance


Although the UN engagement in Somalia was in many ways a reversion to the traditions and habits of the Cold War experiment in the Congo, the 1990s marked a conceptual turning point in UN practice. The organisation made increasing efforts to eliminate the root causes of conflict through the assumption of administering responsibilities, instead of merely combating the symptoms of violence. The theoretical cornerstone of the new UN agenda was Secretary-General Boutros-Ghali's Agenda for Peace, which developed the concept of “post-conflict peace building”, arguing that UN interventions require political, economic and social support structures in order to address the causes of conflict and to avoid a relapse into hostilities. This new strategy was subsequently reaffirmed by the Agenda for Democratisation, the Brahimi Report and the practice of the Security Council which emphasised at the beginning of the new millennium that peacebuilding operations “should focus on fostering sustainable institutions and processes in areas such as sustainable development, the eradication of poverty and inequalities, transparent and accountable governance, the promotion of democracy, respect for human rights and the rule of law and the promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence”.

This agenda is reflected in the peacemaking practice of the UN in the 1990s. Peace-maintenance did not stand still at the ideal of the absence of violence (“negative peace”) or the restoration of the status quo ante. Intervention was more systematically coupled with UN initiatives to reform the internal structure of conflict areas, or the will of the organisation to fill political, economic and legal gaps in post-conflict societies.

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