MSc International Relations Philip Windsor Dissertation Prize
MSc International Relations Philip Windsor Dissertation Prize
This was awarded jointly to Maija Lyytinen for the dissertation entitled A critical assessment of the European Union’s comprehensive approach to security: Discourse analysis of Security Sector Reform in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
MSc International Relations Philip Windsor Dissertation Prize
MSc International Relations Theory Fred Halliday Dissertation Prize
MSc International Political Economy Susan Strange Dissertation Prize
This was awarded to Louisa Mammeri for the dissertation entitled “We don’t need your money”: How underdeveloped formal remittance channels contribute to maintaining the image of self-sufficiency. Evidence from Algeria.
MSc International Relations Research Martin Wight Dissertation Prize
MSc International Relations IR410 International Politics Michael Donelan Prize
Farewell to Armed Conflict: Understanding the Emergence of Stable Peace in Northern Ireland
The three-decade period of armed conflict known as The Troubles in Northern
Ireland ended with the signing of the Good Friday Agreement on April 10, 1998.
However, stable peace did not come to Northern Ireland until 2005 with the
decommissioning of the Provisional Irish Republican Army. This paper seeks to explain the advent of stable peace in Northern Ireland that followed on the heels of a brutal armed conflict that left roughly 3,600 dead. Three stable peace theories are tested to explain the advent of stable peace in Northern Ireland: reciprocal restraint, general sanctuary, and consociationalism. Findings from this case study suggest that reciprocal restraint is the driving factor behind the emergence of stable peace in intrastate conflicts.
Theoretically, this study shows that stable peace can be achieved with little public acceptance of sanctuary or democratic participation. Rather, the process of peace
building negotiated by sectarian elites may be the deciding factor of stable peace. As the parties of peace process in Northern Ireland demonstrate, top-down condemnation of violence and reciprocal concessions may lead to stable peace in intrastate conflicts.
The policy implications of this case study abound. First and foremost, policymakers seeking stable peace should concern themselves with providing spaces to facilitate dialogue between belligerents, not merely their governments. Additionally, those concerned with establishing stable peace should focus their efforts at the elite level rather than the public one. While public peace-work may well lead to reconciliation after an armed conflict, this study indicates that the end of that conflict and subsequent emergence of stable peace are likely to be the result of elite action. Nation-building at the grassroots level is unlikely to lead to stable peace as it often ignores consultation with those with the ability to wage armed conflict. Instead, based on the findings from the Northern Ireland case, policymakers should focus on providing space for elites to make reciprocal concessions if their end goal is stable peace in an intrastate conflict.
A critical assessment of the European Union’s comprehensive approach to security: Discourse analysis of Security Sector Reform in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
This dissertation studies the representational and discursive practises behind the European Union’s comprehensive approach to security, exemplified in its security sector reform policy. In the last decade, the European Union (EU) has developed an increasingly ambitious agenda for its external security policy, stressing its vision of a comprehensive approach and the significance of security sector reform (SSR) in conflict prevention. Firmly convinced of the benefits of SSR, the EU has emerged as a worldwide leader in the practise and has been engaged in SSR-related support in over 70 countries, assisting army, police and judicial authorities.
Current literature assessing the EU’s role in SSR has largely treated the EU as a normative international actor, and studied the evolution of the EU’s SSR policy measures as part of a wider liberal peacebuilding framework. Empirical case studies have aimed to assess the implementation of EU’s SSR practises and norms, and most accounts have pointed to complex governance issues and the lack of donor coordination to explain for the poor implementation of the model. However, by drawing on poststructuralist discourse theory, this dissertation will argue that the EU’s role in undertaking SSR outside its borders cannot be understood as the mere provision of security remedies to weak performing states, but as a discursive practise that works to (re)produce identities of the ‘self’ and a series of ‘others’ while constituting a hierarchical and normative ‘social reality’.
This paper aims to broaden conventional understandings of foreign policy to study how the EU’s SSR practises work to attach meaning to various social subjects and objects. Through the case study of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the paper demonstrates how the EU’s SSR policy discourse produces and maintains identities and normative dichotomies between the EU as a ‘technical expert’ and ‘stabiliser’, and the DRC as ‘incompetent’ and ‘fragile’. The articulation of such identities creates a social reality that allows and normalises certain practises. In fact, the EU’s role in providing SSR supports a hierarchical and normative relationship where the EU is licenced to diagnose and judge the internal situation of the DRC and offer technical solutions to fix it. The EU’s intervention thus becomes to be understood as necessary and desirable, and creates a framework in which future policies can be justified.
DIFFERENT NATIONS, DIFFERENT BEHAVIORS: A cultural explanation for state action in cyberspace
Details to follow.
Ha Hong Thi Nguyen
“Illicit Drugs as a Security Problem: An analysis of the Securitization Theory and the Racialised War on Drugs in America”.
This dissertation seeks to apply the Copenhagen School’s securitization theory to the war on drugs in the US with the aim of, first, adding to the limited number of works that examine illicit drugs from a critical perspective in security studies, and second, contributing to the theoretical debates on securitization theory. It uses the case study of the securitization of crack cocaine in the 1980s in America to illustrate the following arguments.
First, it argues that the failure to reform prohibitionist drug policies in the US stems from the fact that drugs are being seen as an objective threat to security, which thereby makes war an obvious solution to the problem. Seeking to open up the possibility for policy reforms, this essay uses the Copenhagen School’s securitization theory to show that drugs as a security threat is socially constructed and has political implications. Examining the 1980s crack ‘epidemic’ in the US through the lens of securitization theory, I challenge the taken-for-granted belief that drugs are by nature a threat to security by demonstrating that crack cocaine became a security issue only because it underwent a process of securitization.
Second, despite acknowledging securitization theory’s significant contribution in painting the picture of the construction of security in the war on drugs, this dissertation argues that the picture it paints is rather incomplete as it is unable to explain the origins of securitization, which not only explain how the idea of securitizing an issue was possible in the first place, but also shed light on the policy responses that would be legitimized to deal with it. For example, securitization theory cannot help us understand how the idea of securitizing crack became ‘thinkable’ to US government officials while other drugs did not (e.g. powder cocaine never prompted a ‘war’ on drugs like crack cocaine did, despite the fact that they are essentially the same).
Arguing that it is securitization theory’s overwhelming focus on the speech act that prevents it from explaining the origins of securitization, this dissertation suggests that the study of securitization needs to go beyond the speech act to examine the discourses that existed prior to the moment of securitization that can create the conditions for securitization. Through the case study, it shows how discourses that portray African Americans (the main users of crack) as threatening made possible the idea that crack was dangerous. As a result, it can shed light on the racialized effects of the securitization of crack cocaine that have been widely documented in the literature.
In short, the dissertation advocates the examination of the issue of illicit drugs from the lens of securitization theory in order to open up the possibility for policy reforms. However, in order to better understand the construction of security and its outcome, it suggests that the theory is supplemented with an analysis of the discourses that exist prior to the securitization process within which securitization is embedded.
“We don’t need your money”: How underdeveloped formal remittance channels contribute to maintaining the image of self-sufficiency. Evidence from Algeria.
International labour migration, especially in the Maghreb-Europe migration corridor, has mostly been studied from the perspective of migrant receiving states in Europe. Disproportionally little is known of the migrant sending, or emigrant state’s perspective. How does an emigrant state relate to emigration and what implications does it perceive for the country’s economic development? This paper provides new angles to emigrant states’ financial remittance seeking policies, that are international transfers from migrants to relatives in their country of origin. Remittances are a major source of “unrequited” external finance and are widely acclaimed as social and financial insurance mechanisms to conflict-affected and developing countries. Thus most labour exporting countries are now paying attention to create a politically and economically stimulating environment to attract remittances via official banking channels.
Algeria’s approach seems to be at odds with this trend. According to estimates, 90 per cent of remittances enter the Algerian economy by hand or via informal networks. This makes it not only difficult to account for macroeconomic development, it also supplies the parallel market for foreign exchange that is booming across the country. Common assumptions have stated that the underdeveloped banking infrastructure or parallel market premiums in many African countries, including Algeria, causes the wide use of informal channels. Others believe that resource exporters like Algeria believe they have sufficient access to foreign currency and would therefore not invest in remittance seeking policies.
In my paper, I provide an alternative approach to those material interest based explanations. In fact, I argue that the country’s passive stance coalesces with the image that the Algerian state endeavours to represent: A self-sufficient, revolutionary and citizen-oriented welfare state. In other words, to sustain the image of a state that has preserved its revolutionary ethos of the struggle for independence, it has chosen not to overtly court its diaspora for it to increase its remittance sending. This became particularly manifest after 1973 when Algeria’s emigration and remittance seeking policy departed notably from the rest of the Maghreb region. With an analysis of historical events since the country’s independence in 1962, I also illustrate the pervasiveness of the parallel currency exchange markets and its historical linkage with unrecorded remittances. Further sources include interviews that I have conducted with high-level staff at the Bank of Algeria and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as discussions with parallel foreign exchange traders. By doing so, I aim to go beyond purely interest based approaches to emigrant states’ remittance seeking policy and to add ideational variables to the equation.
“A quantum approach to norms: Adopting an ontology of potentiality”
The norm literature is replete with different ideas about what norms are and how they spread. A critical review of the literature reveals what I will call the “subjective” and “objective” concepts of norms. When seen as subjective concepts, norms are a part of mental experience as shared, prescriptive ideas in co-constitution with individual agents. When seen as objects, norms are structures of regular behaviour, real and irreducible to individual minds, caused by and causally constraining to agents. However, due to their underlying ontological and epistemological assumptions, existing behaviouralist, interpretivist, and scientific realist approaches fail to reconcile these two sides, either focusing on one to the exclusion of the other, or combining them in ways inconsistent with the approaches’ underlying assumptions.
In the spirit of advancing Alexander Wendt’s quantum social scientific research programme, this essay proposes a re-conceptualization of norms as potentialities. Quantum social science, based in quantum brain theory, panpsychism, and a conceptualization of society as a semantically entangled quantum system, leads to a more consistent and inclusive approach to norms. I recast norms as shared mental states, prescriptive in content, and with a quantum physical basis as both actualized in practice and as probabilistic potentialities. Lastly, I analyze a real norm, the protection of civilians in war, to demonstrate the strength and usefulness of a quantum approach.