Since the mid-1990’s, my research has focused on international intervention in fragile and conflict-affected states, with a particular emphasis on peacekeeping, peacebuilding and security sector reform. My interest in and approach to these issues was profoundly shaped by my experiences in Bosnia in the late 1990’s, both as a student researcher and as a staff member of the Bosnia mission of the Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe (OSCE). Since that time, I have conducted extensive field research – with an enduring emphasis on the complex interactions between local and international actors in conflict-affected environments – across the Balkans, as well as in Haiti, Afghanistan, and South Sudan.
My current research project – funding by Canada’s Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) – focuses on the growing prominence of protection of civilians (PoC) mandates in UN peacekeeping operations. The project seeks to develop a clearer understanding of what civilian protection means in practice through an examination of how ambitious (and often ambiguous) protection mandates within UN Security Council Resolutions are being translated into concrete protection strategies on the ground in mission-hosting states (including South Sudan, the Central African Republic, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo). It also seeks to clarify the extent to which persistent gaps between the expectations of protection and the ability to protect are impacting the relationship between peacekeepers and conflict-affected communities, and affecting the legitimacy of UN missions. By focusing attention on ground-level interactions between peacekeepers and the ‘peacekept’, the project will shed light on the practical implications of the UN’s growing commitment to robust, protection-oriented peacekeeping. Initial research outputs from this project include:
In addition to my work on peacekeeping and civilian protection, I maintain an active research interest both in the areas of ‘local ownership’ of peacebuilding processes (subject of a previous SSHRC Insight Grant) and security sector reform. Recent research outputs in these areas include the following:
Finally, through my involvement with the Conflict and Security Research Cluster of the Balsillie School of International Affairs, I am also co-editing (with Alistair Edgar and Kirsten Van Houten) a forthcoming volume on Goal 16 of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Provisionally entitled Peaceful, Just, Inclusive: SDG 16 and the Global Governance of Violence, this book will offer a critical mid-term assessment of the extent to which Goal 16’s ambition of promoting ‘peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development’ is being achieved. This volume, which will include a diverse range of contributions by scholars and practitioners working at the intersection of peace and development in both the Global North and Global South, is currently under consideration by Routledge.
As of July 2021, I also serve as Laurier’s research ambassador in the thematic area of policy and governance.