UN Peace Operations and the Role of the Local in (Re)Building the Rule of Law

Alexander Gilder

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UN peace operations undertake a broad array of rule of law activities aiming to rebuild the justice system and end impunity. Rule of law activities in UN peace operations have matured over the last 20 years since the UN experiments with statebuilding in Kosovo and East Timor. Today, rule of law activities can often clearly be seen to advance the broader goal of establishing the host state as the legitimate authority. This paper first discusses the UN’s understanding of the rule of law and why the UN has chosen to underpin its peacebuilding agenda with ending impunity. Second, transitional justice in MINUSCA is discussed including the establishment of the Special Criminal Court. Third, UNMISS is investigated where the UN has an unprecedented challenge of ensuring the rule of law on protection of civilian sites. Lastly, the promise of local justice is assessed. It is suggested that while ending impunity and strengthening formal institutions can be important to ensure human rights violations do not persist, there needs to be an overarching, bottom-up strategy in place to engage and empower local communities, and other civil actors, to be part of the rule of law process.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)70-86
Number of pages17
JournalUtrecht Law Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 7 Oct 2021

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