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Research proposal focused on the topic of military operations wins this year’s research conference

In the course ‘Research Design CSM’ Dr. Elke Devroe and Moniek Akerboom organized this year a competitive research conference where students of the Master Crisis and Security Management (CSM) presented their research design in order to gain some (fictive) funding on their proposal.

There were a lot of interesting topics, such as military innovations in biotechnology, crisis communication in multinational context, privatizing border security, crime prevention through environmental design, narco-terrorism and cyber security. The 8 students of the winning team focused on the topic of military operations and specifically on the factor of positive peace in a designated UN peacekeeping mission. On the content:

The current unstable situation in Syria and Iraq has led to the idea of researching an older situation. Especially now, with the rising tensions between nations and internal alliances being formed (for instance between the United States and the UN). This is highly relevant to CSM as an aspect of international peacemaking. What actually happens after the peacekeeping troops leave a military conflict and everyday life returns? This is translated into the following research question ‘To what extent did the United Nations’ peacekeeping missions have a positive influence and lead to peace in Bosnia- Herzegovina?’ The research is established as a single case study design.


In this case war can be described as a situation when peace is absent. However, what is peace? The concept of peace can be divided into two components: positive and negative peace (Johan Galtung). Positive peace is when structural violence is absent. Peacekeeping troops have to leave at a certain point which means that the normal way of living returns in the post war-zone. The direct physical violence is not the only violence that has to be stopped. Cultural and structural violence also have to be stopped. Cultural violence can be seen as a kind of hatred or justification of one party killing the other party. Indicators of structural violence are: poverty, healthcare, draught, literacy and political participation. The UN tries to counter these indicators and aspects of violence through peacekeeping missions in order to stabilize the conflict area and establish long lasting peace.


The second component of peace, negative peace is the absence of personal violence. This can be achieved through ensuring the prevention of personal violence. However, positive peace is sustainable and has a long-term orientation. Negative peace only relates to the personal aspect instead of dealing with the root causes of the conflict. Peacekeeping troops of the UN are therefore, needed. However, these missions should be focused on encouraging positive peace instead of negative peace in order to address the root causes of the conflict. If the UN does not address the root causes it will be sending an endless stream of troops, supplies and resources without any improvement nor reduction of violence in the conflict zone.

The participants, with from top-left to bottom-right: Folkert Stuij, Stefan Levels, Jan Adriaanse, Charlie Maynard, Polina Vynegradova, Thijs Kop, Al Ayoob, Bart Bedet
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