Date of Award

Summer 2013

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Political Science & Geography


Graduate Program in International Studies

Committee Director

Regina Karp

Committee Member

Kurt Taylor Gaubatz

Committee Member

Peter Schulman


The United Nations (UN) has incorporated a strong gender perspective into its peacekeeping operations (PKO) based on a renewed focus on women's rights and participation in peace processes. These efforts are part of a complex organizational learning process in which women's central role in peace processes and the increasing efforts to respond to conflict-related sexual violence have become a central component of the organization' s strategy to build a lasting peace. The underlying logic is that it is only after an equitable society is founded and when the other half of the population's voice has been included in the political life of the state that peace can genuinely be accomplished.

Nonetheless, the UN's impact on the ground is difficult to measure and remains limited. While member states have unanimously endorsed these policies aimed at reducing gender inequalities and embedded them in the organization's resolutions and peace operations mandates, the equal status of women promoted in these policies is in direct contrast with women's status within a majority of the member countries. This dissertation argues that the UN's renewed focus on gender as a means to build a lasting peace has had limited results due to member states' inability or unwillingness to adopt gender approaches themselves, along with other factors such as the persistence of patriarch-based and weak institutions in intervened societies, volatile security environments and lack of resources.

In order to assess this argument, the UN's organizational learning process will be evaluated through an analysis of how gender-sensitive practices were incorporated to peace processes at headquarters, member states and mission levels. For this purpose, an analysis of the UN's normative framework (resolutions, guidelines, training modules, etc) and states' compliance will be carried out along with an evaluation of the advances for the implementation of these renewed practices in two case studies: United Nations Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO) and the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH).


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