UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The battle of the peace-building norm after the Iraq war Higashi, Daisaku


This thesis argues that there is a norm on peace building created by a series of practices of the United Nations after the end of the Cold War. The norm can be characterized by three key components: (1) the UN’s leading role authorized by the UN Security Council; (2) indigenous legitimacy conferred by local political process (peace agreements, popular consultations, etc.); and (3) national elections legitimatized by IOs (UN). After its invasion of Iraq, the Bush administration attempted to change this norm and to rebuild Iraq in a virtually unilateral way without the UN’s political role. However, the United States failed in this attempt and needed to ask for the help of the United Nations to design the alternative political transition, create interim governments, and conduct elections by exercising the UN’s unique legitimacy. The case shows that international norms, created by IOs, are able to resist the challenge by a hegemon that attempted to change the norm, and that the IOs could push the hegemon to follow the original expectations of the norm. The case is a serious challenge to the realist tenet because the norm can substantially regulate the behavior of the hegemon even in a hard case involving the vital interests of a hegemonic state, such as the US involvement in Iraq. The case is also significant in demonstrating how the norm can be changed; contrary to the realist conviction, even a hegemonic state cannot change the norm with free hands when the United Nations Secretariat and other UN member states seriously oppose the amendment of the norm.

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