Peace Research Meets Implementation Studies: The Role of Implementing Actors

Publication Date: 
19 July 2021
Publication Language: 
Appearing in: 
International Relations

In spite of a vibrant debate about the genesis, logic and effects of peace operations, peace research remains poorly equipped to account for how policies are implemented and ‘translated into practice’ – issues that have been the focus in implementation studies for nearly five decades. In response, we propose a merger of certain strands of peace research with bottom-up implementation studies, which forefronts the role of ‘implementing actors’, namely, those actors who are granted the discretionary powers to carry out policies in their daily encounter with local counterparts on the ground. Through a case study of peace operations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), we show that successful policy implementation depends on that field-based implementing actors are provided with discretionary powers to use their skill, judgement and local knowledge to solve problems and ensure implementation of peace operations on the ground. There is a need for a paradigm change within peace research in order to account for these findings. Better understanding of the daily work carried out by implementing actors in the field makes it possible to avoid many of the pitfalls and shortcomings we have witnessed through several decades of flawed or even devastating peace operations such as the one in DRC.

Democratic Republic of the Congo, peace-building, peace operations, policy implementation, security sector reform, stabilization