Peacebuilding: Utopia and Reality

  • David ChandlerEmail author
Living reference work entry


Twenty years of international peacebuilding have demonstrated a shift from liberal internationalist hopes for new externally constructed post-conflict domestic orders to a more realist or pragmatic view of the powers of external interveners. Rather than separate case studies, this entry considers the changes in the understanding of the peacebuilding project itself: tracing the shift from the liberal internationalist assumptions of the late 1990s to the pragmatic realism of today. It does this through the lenses of EH Carr’s classic work The Twenty Years’ Crisis, UN policy thinking on the problematic assumptions of international peacebuilding, and the diagnoses in David Lake’s (2016) book The Statebuilder’s Dilemma, which sets out three pragmatic alternatives. The entry concludes that all three of these alternatives can be seen in practice today.

Twenty Year’s Crisis

The shift from “utopian” to “realist” or pragmatic approaches to peacebuilding cannot be grasped without...

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Copyright information

© The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of WestminsterLondonUK

Section editors and affiliations

  • Kai Michael Kenkel
  • Oliver Richmond
    • 1
  • Gëzim Visoka
    • 2
  1. 1.The University of ManchesterManchesterUK
  2. 2.Dublin City UniversityDublinIreland