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Ethics and norms in peace operations

Prof. Louisa Lombard
Yale University, US


Prof. Gisela Hirschmann

Supported by the RUB Research School VIP grant, Prof. Louisa Lombard and Prof. Gisela Hirschmann are currently planning a joint research project on the spread of international norms (e.g. the protection of civilians) in peace operations and the dilemmas that these norms might cause for peacekeepers. This will be an interdisciplinary research project that analyzes processes of norm internalization and norm conflicts from both a political science and an anthropological perspective.

Prof. Louisa Lombard is a cultural anthropologist who studies African borderland areas where the state is largely absent and a range of actors govern, from the remote and little-populated eastern reaches of the Central African Republic (C.A.R.) to other sites of multi-dimensional peace operations. How, in such contexts, do people navigate fragile relationships of trust and claim access to resources and authority? In her most recent book, State of Rebellion: Violence and Intervention in the Central African Republic (, she analyzed the historical and social roots of violence in the Central African Republic and created a framework for understanding the relationships among marginalized rural youths, political leaders, and diplomats and other international actors in the conflicts and perpetuated state fragility there. She also works on humanitarianism and international interventions more generally, with a particular focus on the African continent. While using anthropological methods, her research speaks to other disciplines, such as International Relations, sociology, development, law, and political science.

During Louisa Lombard’s visit at RUB in June 2017, Louisa Lombard and Gisela Hirschmann held a colloquium for PhD students from the fields of social science, law and anthropology. This offered PhD students from the Institute for International Law and the Law of Peace Operations (IFHV), the Social Science Faculty and the Institute for Development Research and Development Policy (IEE) as well as from Yale Law School to present their dissertation and receive detailed individual feedback. The following research topics were discussed:


  • The Institutionalization of Human Trafficking by the Islamic State (Mais Masadeh, IFHV) 
  • Community policing in immigrant communities (Alex Frank, Yale University) 
  • NGO-belligerent relations (Darina Pellowska, IEE) 
  • Local perceptions of climate change in Cameroon (Vivian Ntoko, IEE) 
  • Gender in community refugee protection strategies (Inga Zimmermann, IFHV)


During her visit, Louisa Lombard also presented her insights from recent field research on civilian protection and peacekeeping in the Research Cluster “Humanitarian Governance” directed by Gisela Hirschmann at the IFHV. Louisa Lombard's research examines peacekeepers' sense of the ethics of their work as civilian protectors, in particular by asking them about the challenging situations they encounter while deployed. She is working most closely with Rwandan peacekeepers, who are known among peacekeepers as particularly invested in civilian protection imperatives. At the time of her visit to RUB, she had just completed an eight-week peace support operations training course at the Rwanda Military Academy, Gako, where she studied the work culture and inculcation of peacekeeping norms and procedures. The presentation was followed by a discussion among researchers of the IFHV.