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DAFF 25A02 - United Nations peacekeeping : Theory and Practice

Type d'enseignement : Seminar

Semester : Autumn 2018-2019

Number of hours : 24

Language of tuition : English


A basic knowledge of post-WWII international relations and basic knowledge in war and peace would be a plus.

Course Description

This course is a 12 weeks lecture aiming at bringing back politics but also strategy in UN peacekeeping (UNPK) operations. To do this, the lecture will rely on the works of Prussian officer and philosopher Carl von Clausewitz. In effect, if “war is the continuation of politics by other means” so is peacekeeping. That is why, the course will mobilize clausewitzian concepts like the “means and ends”, “trinity”, “fog”, “friction”, center of gravity” to examine their effects on the politics of UN peace operations. One assumption of this course is that UNPK is often undertaken when it is not the “appropriate instrument of policy”. One of the problems of UNPK operations is that they are not guided by a clear strategy (what are the final objectives). This problem can be traced to the political processes leading to their creation. The UN Security Council is not a single actor deciding about the aims of those operations. If this situation did not pose a problem for traditional UN operations, it is no longer the case with robust missions. Hence the importance of understanding the politics and strategy of UNPK. The general objective of the course is to give the students the intellectual tools to analyze more critically how UNPK is organized. Students should be warned from the beginning that the epistemological approach adopted by the professor is “problem-solving” or “mainstream” rather than “critical”. In other words, the theories used to examine UNPK are mostly Realism (Classical, Structural), Liberalism and Constructivism. Those looking for a post-structural/critical analysis will be disappointed. The class aims at criticizing but not rejecting UNPK. The goal is rather to try to fix the political and strategic problems surrounding this militaro-diplomatic tool “invented” between 1945 and 1956.


HATTO, Ronald (Chercheur au CERI, Sciences Po)

Course validation

One mid-term take-home exam (50%), One final in-class exam (50%)

Required reading

  • On Clausewitz:
  • ARON, Raymond, Sur Clausewitz, Bruxelles, Editions Complexe, 1987 ; HOWARD, Michael, Clausewitz, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1983 ; HOWARD, Michael & PARET, Peter (Editors and translators) Carl Von Clausewitz, On War, 2nd Edition, Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1984.
  • On UNPK:
  • BELLAMY, Alex J., WILLIAMS, Paul with GRIFFIN, Stuart (2010) Understanding Peacekeeping, 2nd Edition, Cambridge, Polity Press.
  • HATTO, Ronald (2015) Le maintien de la paix : l'ONU en action, Paris, Armand Colin (Coll. U).