Researcher: Laura J. Shepherd
The United Nations Peacebuilding Commission (UNPBC) was established by the UN Security Council in 2006 to facilitate and manage peacebuilding processes in client countries, ‘dealing only with countries emerging from conflict, once a peace accord has been concluded and a minimum degree of security exists’ (UNPBC 2009).
The Commission is charged by the UNSC with developing outlines of best practice in post-conflict reconstruction, and securing political and material resources to assist the transition from conflict to peacetime. At present, the Commission is involved with peacebuilding and reconstruction efforts in Burundi, Sierra Leone, Guinea-Bissau and the Central African Republic. As the Commission was only established in 2006, there is a limited amount of academic literature addressing the legitimacy and efficiency of its activities and even less from a gendered perspective although there are several reports and briefs generated by civil society organizations. This research seeks to contribute to this emergent literature by sharing the insights of civil society organisations regarding effective ways to engage the UNPBC to ensure that all activities and policies are formulated and implemented with an awareness of how gender matters in peacebuilding and reconstruction.
How can the UNPBC best ensure that its activities and policies are formulated and implemented with an awareness of how gender matters?
How can civil society organisations most effectively engage the UNPBC in order to advance and enhance gender awareness?
What are the logics of time, space and legitimacy that order and organize the foundational documents of the Commission? How are these logics gendered and racialised?
To conduct three focus groups and follow-up one-to-one interviews with staff at key civil society organisations that seek to engage with the activities and policies of the Commission.
To produce useful resources for the research participants to enable them to engage more effectively and potentially more collaboratively with the Commission.
To produce a rigorous and innovative analysis of the founding of the Commission that makes a useful contribution to academic debates in the area of peacebuilding and post-conflict reconstruction.
The first phase of this project comprises three sets of focus groups and interviews with staff members at three key civil society organisations. All of the organisations have engaged with the activities of the Commission and the Commission itself seeks to foster productive relationships with civil society organisations. The purpose of the focus groups is to share ideas about and strategies for effective engagement with the UNPBC and also to discuss priority issues in the area of peacebuilding and post-conflict reconstruction. Conducting one-to-one interviews will allow me to explore in more detail concerns raised by individuals during the focus group sessions. Working with three different groups in three different institutions and locations will access unique and valuable perspectives on gender and peacebuilding as well as ensuring that the research is beneficial to the research participants.
The second phase is a detailed discourse-theoretical archival analysis of the Commission’s founding documents. All of the founding documents, including UNSC Resolutions, Reports of the Secretary-General, rules of procedure and Concept Notes from Working Groups on Lessons Learned, are available on the Commission’s website. This body of documents will be analysed in order to account for the ways in which the Commission is produced by and productive of particular understandings of subjectivity, security and space.
This project will provide data for a research monograph entitled 'Locating Legitimacy: Peacebuilding and the Politics of Participation.' The focus group and interview data will be supplemented by archival research of the UN Peacebuilding Commission's records. The project will also result in the production of a scholarly article in an appropriate peer-reviewed journal, to be titled 'Gender, Legitimacy and Peacebuilding: Engaging Civil Society Practitioners and the UN Peacebuilding Commission.' Finally, the findings will be written up in the form of a briefing paper for distribution to the participant civil society organisations and their constituencies. This briefing paper will be open-content and freely available on the websites of the participant organisations.
Shepherd, Laura J. (forthcoming 2011) ‘Gender and Global Social Justice: Peacebuilding and the Politics of Space’ in N. Smith and H. Widdows (eds) Global Social Justice London: Routledge.
Shepherd, Laura J. (forthcoming 2010) ‘Women, Armed Conflict and Language/ Gender, Violence and Discourse’ International Review of the Red Cross Vol. 876.
Shepherd, Laura J. (2008) Gender, Violence and Security: Discourse as Practice, London: Zed Books.
Shepherd, Laura J. (2008) ‘Power and Authority in the Production of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325’, International Studies Quarterly 52(2), 383-404.