Non-Western approaches to peacemaking and peacebuilding

Non-Western approaches to peacemaking and peacebuilding: State-of-the-art and an agenda for research

Authors: Mateja Peter and Haley Rice

Scholarship has begun to address how the increasing presence of non-Western powers as mediators and peacebuilders is impacting specific peace projects and the global order as a whole, but some key questions remain underexplored. The authors found a fragmented literature: overview and comparative studies addressing alternative peacemaking and peacebuilding approaches, and case studies on how individual non-Western powers approach specific conflicts.

Motivations of non-Western actors in peacemaking and peacebuilding are complex but often painted with a broadly negative stroke. Comparative studies indicate a variety of overlapping motives but remain quite general in their findings. Non-Western approaches to conflict management differ in form and substance from Western ones, but the two should not be seen as dichotomous. All non-Western countries operate both within and outside the liberal peace perspective, with the grouping existing on a spectrum.

Form: We are seeing a shift from multilateral to unilateral interventions, and a shift from global to local and regional players. Most non-military measures pursued by non-Western powers are conducted bilaterally. There is now a multiplicity of mediators and peacebuilding actors in the field, with some research indicating that this may lead to fracturing of peace processes.

Substance: Potential differences between Western and non-Western approaches are identified around norms of non-intervention, norms of accountability and participatory governance, and the balancing between development and democracy. Non-Western actors prefer top-down approaches, working mostly with governments.

About the Series: The Global Transitions Series looks at fragmentations in the global order and how these impact peace and transition settlements. It explores why and how different third-party actors – state, intergovernmental, and non-governmental – intervene in conflicts, and how they see themselves contributing to reduction of conflict and risks of conflict relapse. The series critically assesses the growth and diversification of global and regional responses to contemporary conflicts. It also asks how local actors are navigating this multiplicity of mediators and peacebuilders and how this is shaping conflict outcomes and post-conflict governance. Explore the full series.