United Nations Policy Discourse and Implementation: Addressing Sexual Exploitation in Peace Operations

Lead Research Organisation: University of Leeds
Department Name: Politics and International Studies


The institutional actors involved in United Nations (UN) peace operations aim to move a conflict-torn country to an environment of lasting peace. In their capacity, they primarily perform a security role, but their arrival is also associated with gendered sexually exploitative conditions which negatively impact the local civilian population and which have far reaching consequences. Since the increased research and political attention towards Women, Peace and Security (WPS) after the adoption of Security Council (SC) Resolution 1325(2000), sexual exploitation in peace operations has not been reduced, suggesting that policies remain in the politic and are not being implemented on the ground. Despite the emerging research and political attention given to the WPS agenda, sexual exploitation in United Nations Peace Operations has not been reduced, suggesting that policies remain in the area of the politic and are not being implemented on the ground. Additionally, the policy making process itself may have implications for a policy's interpretation and implementation. This project asks how institutions interpret the Women Peace and Security (WPS) Agenda in policy development and implementation as it relates to addressing sexual exploitation and abuse in United Nations Peace Operations. This question is significant as a part of the wider puzzle of the legitimacy of peacekeeping operations as well as the ability of the WPS agenda to achieve its purpose. The 'bad press' and the short, medium and long-term consequences of this type of abuse undermine the legitimacy of both WPS and Peacekeeping operations. The research hopes to advance theoretical knowledge relating to gender and policy making, especially in the UNSC, and policy implementation. Several post-structuralist scholars recommend the type of research which addresses many of the key contexts that I intend to study (Huysmans 2006; Moulin and Nyers 2007; Ardau 2008, 98-117 cited in Coleman and Rosenow 2016:2). This study has a political rationale of feminism and an epistemological rationale in post-structuralism and interpretivism relative to the WPS agenda in theory, policy and institutional practice. This research will use a multidisciplinary approach including post-structuralist feminist theory, critical security studies (CSS) and relevant pedagogic theory. The project will include qualitative research, in the form of: discourse analysis, semi-structured interviews, participant observation and focus groups (simulations). The participants should come from a Western country, as the preconception that they will be the 'most well-informed/trained' offers the project an ability to look at what is seen as the highest standard of training. If these groups are 'the best' and policies still are not achieving their goals, then there is a more relevant starting point to address theoretical and operational issues. This choice of participants can also provide an opportunity to apply Weber's (2016) concepts on the unstable logics of sexuality and the will to knowledge in international politics. Discourse analysis will be conducted on key policy and practice documents which are intended to reinforce and implement the WPS Agenda politically and practically. This analysis could also produce rich results in examining the discursive articulations expressed in the interviews and focus groups. Semi-structured interviews will be conducted with troops who have been "trained" in the policy. Participant observation of Gender training can offer an opportunity to explore the pedagogical techniques employed in "implementing" gender policies in peace operations. Focus groups (Simulations) will be conducted with those who have been "trained" in the policy, providing an to see how participants "do" the policies.


10 25 50

Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
ES/P000746/1 01/10/2017 30/09/2027
1948667 Studentship ES/P000746/1 20/09/2017 30/09/2021 Sabrina White