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Peacebuilding after Conflicts

This minor deals with violent conflicts between and within countries and the way the international community can respond to stop and prevent these. Various international organizations are involved in peace operations, such as the United Nations and NATO, but also a range of non-violent measures are contributed by various international bodies.
Many international interventions have had mixed results. The assistance given was often inadequate. Two-thirds of the countries that experienced modern (civil) war fall back into war within ten years. Immense bloodshed, war trauma, and destruction of economic progress push people back into violence and dismal poverty. The international community could do much better. Post-conflict peace building can prevent a return of violence


Summary of contents:

  1. Introduction, use of violence, The United Nations Security Council
  2. Causes and indicators of violent conflict. Why are some places prone to war?
  3. Peaceful settlement of disputes. Do non-violent measures, such as negotiation and diplomacy offer a solution?
  4. Experience with peace-operations and the military perspective
  5. Roles of international organisations; Why do the United Nations deploy different types of military operations in different situations? What is the role of NATO and the African Union?
  6. When a violent conflict ends, the international community becomes engaged in peace building. How can new wars be prevented? How to build rule of law and democracy?
  7. “Democracies do not fight each other”. What is democracy, and does it contribute to peace?
  8. Islamist extremism. What explains the rise of the Islamic State (IS)? 
  9. Conflict prevention. What is the role of civil society? 
  10. War Economies. The economic dimension of civil wars
  11. The Responsibility to Protect. A new international concept to protect civilians against mass atrocities
  12. Simulation game on international negotiations


  • Students should be at the third year of study
  • Fluent in English
  • If you do not have much experience with writing a research paper, you should at least become familiar with a proper referencing system before the start of the minor, such as APA. You should know how to avoid plagiarism!


Students give a 10 minute oral presentation on a case study of their choice and complete this at the end of the course as a research paper. There is a two hour written exam. All require at least a 5.5 to complete the minor.

  • Written exam 33%
  • Presentation 33%
  • Thesis 34%


Ca 2500 pp reading material:
Reports of international organisations and non-governmental organisations, chapters of text books and scientific articles.

Joris Voorhoeve, From War to the Rule of Law, Amsterdam University Press, 2007.

All materials will be on Blackboard