Intervention and State-building

Intervention-and-State-buildingThis research theme focuses firstly on international intervention, aimed at preventing and addressing serious human rights abuses and secondly, on international and internal processes of statebuilding and peacebuilding, particularly after armed conflict. Its strength lies in its multidisciplinary approach combining development studies, political science and international law.

As a group of scholars we investigate the different forms and shapes of international intervention, analysing its impacts on local societies, with a specific focus on the agency of local actors in these settings. We take the OECD’s 2008 definition of statebuilding as the starting point for our research: ‘purposeful action to develop the capacity, institutions and legitimacy of the state in relation to an effective political process for negotiating the mutual demands between state and societal groups’. Our own approach, as this suggests, is both broad and inclusive, and we pay special attention in our research to five key cross-cutting themes: trust, legitimacy, governance, the social contract and human security. As a group of scholars, ‘critical engagement’ informs and enriches our research, teaching and policy advisory work.

Peacebuilding and statebuilding involve long-term processes which embrace a range of social, political, and developmental challenges. However, on occasions egregious abuses of human rights result in calls for more forceful international action – including sanctions and military force – to prevent or end suffering. In line with this, we focus on understanding of the theoretical and practical challenges related to humanitarian intervention and the ‘Responsibility to Protect’ (R2P).

Questions we seek to answer: 

  • How should international society collectively, or individual actors, respond to grave and widespread abuses of human rights?
  • How should the norm of non-intervention be balanced against the human rights of individuals in peril?
  • Should some form of force be used, across state borders, to prevent or stop widespread and terrible human suffering, without the consent (and against the wishes) of the state in which these human rights abuses are taking place?


Saving Humans |

In collaboration with the Institute for Advanced Studies, this project brings together a number of researchers to address contemporary health, environmental and security threats to humans. In response it considers a number of interventionist strategies to protect and mitigate existing and future threats. 













Hybridity from international relations to international law: Exploring power, social structures, and institutions beyond the liberal West |

As the global environment moves away from being dominated by Western states, there is a need to move away from imposing Western constructs upon the international community. Redressing the imbalance of global politics provides opportunities to implement more integrated - hybrid - constructs.

The workshop will further contribute to develop and consolidate the research theme 'Intervention and State-building' and will provide the first interdisciplinary forum for discussions that will fuse the theory and practice of hybridity during this embryonic phase. We will explore precisely but not exclusively issues of contested sovereignty and supervised independence, human rights paradigms and other law traditions, and peacebuilding and local resistance.

The Lead Academics involved are:

Dr. Rosa Freedman (Law)
Dr. Nicolas Lemay-Hébert (IDD / ICCS)
Professor Jenny Phillimore (Institute for Applied Social Studies)

Academic Links |


Professor Nicholas Wheeler

  • Humanitarian Intervention

Professor Paul Jackson

  • liberal state-building in post-conflict situations.
  • External intervention in security issues, particularly US security policy towards Africa and AFRICOM

Dr Nicholas Lemay-Hebert

  • International interventions
  • The unintended consequences of humanitarian missions

Dr Danielle Beswick

  • Relations between donors and post conflict states, particularly in terms of their impacts on security and state-building in the recipient state





















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