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BIPR | Contestations of the UN's Role in Conflict Management. From Latin America to Russia
Contestations of the UN's Role in Conflict Management. From Latin America to Russia

December 7, 2023 - 15:30

Stephanie Hofmann, European University Institute

Event Recap

Dr. Stephanie Hofmann began the seminar by briefly outlining what got her interested in international organizations. As a political theorist at first, she explained that she was curious about how sovereignty was being practiced and one way of it being practiced and challenged is by international organizations. Hofmann is interested in how preferences change over time and how different political parties value and shape different international organizations, including NATO and the UN.

Hofmann also talked about the UN and its role in peace and security. Although some see the UN as a core part of the liberal international order, other non-liberal values are also ingrained in the organization. Hofmann talked about the legal ambiguity that allowed for the creation of peacekeeping missions as these activities were not outlined in the charter when the UN was created. She also mentioned that it remains contested whether regional organizations or the UN have primacy in peacekeeping activities.

Hofmann focused much of the seminar on the idea of contestations. Her example illustrated how different countries perceive the UN differently with the victorious powers from WWII thinking that the UN would be the main police actor in the world to maintain peace and security and South American states deciding that regional organizations should have greater power. The latter states are the ones that pushed for Chapter VIII of the UN Charter, which outlines regional arrangements and provides for a more diverse set of actors instead of imposing the political decisions of five states.

On the topic of China, Hoffman explained that it has become the biggest P5 contributor in UN peace operations, providing personnel and leading some of the missions. She makes a clarification, however, that there have been no new UN operations since 2014. China's approach outside of the UN is much more civilian and focuses on infrastructure development than the active approach of other states. By adopting its approach, China hopes to pursue what in its view are peaceful relations.

Hofmann gave some advice on how to go about studying contestations in international relations. She gave practical advice to utilize the minutes from the UN Security Council meetings because they outline the negotiations that take place and to look at the UN Security Council Report. Additionally, they are useful to understand the distinct positions and the red lines at play in negotiations. At the end of the seminar Hofmann answered a series of questions from the audience on topics ranging from rationality in international relations, the decline of peacekeeping missions, UN reforms, and public opinion.

Contestations of the UN's Role in Conflict Management. From Latin America to Russia

hosted by Professor Nina Hall

Stephanie Hofmann
European University Institute

Stephanie Hofmann holds the Joint Chair in International Relations between the Department of Political and Social Science and Robert Schuman Centre of Advanced Studies, and is Director of the Europe in the World research area at the Robert Schuman Centre. She is currently on leave from the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, where she is Professor in International Relations and Political Science. Hofmann holds a PhD in Government from Cornell University (2009).

Most of her research revolves around densely institutionalized spaces (also called regime complexes), variegated institutional expressions of multilateralism, national preference formation on foreign and security policy issues and global ordering processes. Hofmann mainly focuses on crisis management and cyberspace but is also interested in the nexus between security and economic policy issues. Much of her work was concentrated on European and transatlantic institutions, but she has also begun researching the AU, CSTO, SCO, OAS and the UN. Her work has been published by Cambridge University Press, and journals such as the European Journal of International Relations, International Affairs, Journal of Common Market Studies, Journal of Conflict Resolution, Journal of European Public Policy, Journal of Peace Research, and Perspectives on Politics.
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