Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Glas, Aarie

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Political Science


The United Nations (UN) started undertaking “stability operations” in the beginning of the 21st century. This may be simply defined as the use of proactive offensive force against targeted non-state actors to contain aggressors, establish authority, help enforce law and order, and ultimately ensure the protection of civilians, which also has long-term implications for lasting political solutions. This represents a change in the UN peace operations and adoption of the novel secondary norm, namely the use of proactive offensive force against targeted non-state actors defined as enemies. While primary norms refer to the collective expectations of appropriate behavior, secondary norms are engineered to support primary norms, in this case, responsibility to protect and protection of civilians. The UN has labelled four peace operations as stability operations to date, which include missions in Haiti in 2004, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in March 2013, Mali in April 2013, and the Central African Republic (CAR) in April 2014. These developments mark a profound change in the form and function of the UN peace operations as they seem to explicitly violate the foundational and core norms of UN peace operations, namely non- or minimal use of force. Focusing on the latest three cases, I explore this puzzle and begin with the question: What explains the adoption of an offensive use of force norm that is at odds with the core UN norms of non- or minimal use of force? The possible alternative explanations suggest the role of powerful states, the role of NGOs or transitional activist groups/networks, and the role of the institutional pathology. However, using qualitative content analysis based on data from UNSC meeting minutes, resolutions, policy documents, reports produced by the UN secretariat regarding stability missions and secondary literature, I argue that the UN bureaucrats play a central role in adoption of the proactive offensive use of force secondary norm through mechanism of argumentative persuasion. To make my arguments, I conceptualize the UN bureaucrats and the UNSC state representatives as a community of practice (CoP). The unique institutional setup with permanent and non-permanent members, the importance of the UN secretariat, and a successful operation over seven decades make it possible to conceptualize it as a CoP. This project contributes to better understanding of peacekeeping, which has implications in the 21st century and beyond. Additionally, the project shows the importance of international organizations’ (IO) innovative policy roles in general and the UN’s innovative policy in particular and reinforces the arguments that IOs are purposive actors and not merely the arenas in which states pursue their policies, but it is different from institutional pathology. My study shows that under certain circumstances and conditions, the UN bureaucrats exercise some degree of independent effects through peacekeeping operations by informing the state actors, making policy suggestions, and helping to build necessary consensus. However, the project reveals the plausibility of my argument as well as some limitations. We do not see concrete process tracing in action here mainly because of the nature of data I used. An ideal type of process tracing would require ideal data, for instance, interviews with the key officials/ bureaucrats in the UN and state representatives at the UNSC and/or ethnographic investigation at the UN. Even though we do not see ideal process tracing here, we see a process-tracing-inspired framework to offer plausible argument.


83 pages




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