Research page

Timeline: 2018-2021

Funding organisation: SNSF
Granted fund: 709'352.00

Associated project: Violence Prevention (VIPRE)

Project Description


The field of International Relations has long been involved in the study of “normative transformation” – i.e. with the ways in which norms with universal ambitions, such as human rights, are “projected” onto states and there “internalized” by local actors. Much less is known, however, about how these interpretations are in turn fed back up to the global level. By focusing on understandings of peacebuilding in China, Japan and Russia, this project seeks to study the manner in which both top-down and bottom-up dynamics influence the nature, content, and direction of normative change. In doing so, it advances a new theoretical and methodological framework that seeks to offer an innovative contribution to contemporary scholarship on norm diffusion, the role of rising powers in global governance, and the (re)shaping of international order.

Mainstream peacebuilding scholarship, which is predominantly Anglophone and ideologically embedded in the “liberal peace” paradigm, pays little attention to peacebuilding practices undertaken by non-Western countries. This project seeks to critically compare and contrast the normative and practical underpinnings of what the project calls the “global peacebuilding order” by focusing specifically on the three case-study countries and their regional spheres of influence. Indeed, China has been increasingly involved in peacebuilding activities in Africa, Russia is active in the Caucasus and the Middle East, and Japan has recently undertaken a comprehensive reform in national security legislation which now allows the Japanese Self-Defense Force to take a more proactive role in UN peace operations. What is more, the three countries are also key players in contemporary security dynamics in Central and East Asia.

In terms of deliverables, the project will produce a vibrant and interactive webpage that links peacebuilding scholars and practitioners, four to five scholarly articles published in peer-reviewed journals, an edited volume that offers reactions to the project’s findings from key academics and practitioners in China, Japan and Russia, and a set of accessible issue briefs. Drawing on the research teams’ extensive network of peacebuilding scholars and practitioners in Beijing, Tokyo and Moscow, the project will confront practitioners in Geneva and New York with “alternative” visions of peacebuilding maintained by academics, decision-makers and the general public in the three countries of study.

EN Project Summary

CN Project Summary

JP Project Summary

RU Project Summary

Expected Outputs 

The expected outputs from this project are listed below:

  • Policy briefs

  • Journal articles 

  • Edited volumes 

  • Events and workshops 

Events Summary of the Project


6 November 2019, Geneva Peace Week Geneva, CH

Kazu spoke at the Geneva Peace Week’s event “Peacebuilding: Perspectives from China, Korea, and Japan”. The team interviewed key stakeholders who had travelled to Geneva to attend the conference. 

September - November, 2019, Moscow, Russia

Kazu conducted fieldwork in Russia. He attended the seminars on peacebuilding, Africa, and development cooperation organized by the Valdai Discussion Club. Kazu made a presentation at the the 12th Russian International Studies Association (RISA) Convention “The World of the Regions vs. the Regions of the World” 21-22 October, 2019, held at the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Moscow State Institute of International Relations. He conducted interviews with 17 officials and scholars from various institutions. Dissemination of the project and navigation of potential collaborators.

11-14 September 2019, the 13th Pan-European Conference on International Relations (EISA), Sofia, Bulgaria

Presentation of preliminary findings (presentation given by Kazu).

June-July, 2019, Beijing and Shanghai, China

Xinyu conducted fieldwork in China. Here she attended the Peace Forum of China, 2019, in Beijing. Xinyu also attended the lecture given by former Chinese ambassador to South Africa. Interviews were conducted with 22 informants, from Chinese universities, think tanks, and governmental units. Dissemination of the project and navigation of potential collaborators.

June, 2019, NEW YORK, USA 

Keith and Oliver conducted fieldwork in New York. Here they interviewed key policy makers from the United Nations and mission officials. 

22-24 May 2019, OECD Boulogne, Paris, France

Xinyu and Keith made a presentation on China’s engagement in fragile and/or conflict-affected situations, at The Task Meeting of the International Network on Conflict and Fragility (INCAF) of the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC). Thematic Session III: Collective learning: Financing for Stability – Role of China’s Engagement in Fragile and/or Conflict-affected Situations.

9 November 2018, OECD Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI), Rome, Italy

Kazu participated in the workshop “The EU and Resilience: interrogating theory, policies and practice” organized by The Comprehensive Capacity-building in Eastern Neighbourhood andCentral Asia: research integration, impact governance and sustainable communities (COMPASS) project led by Professor Elena Korosteleva of the University of Kent.

2-4 November 2018, Japan Association of International Relations (JAIR) Annual Convention 2018, Omiya, Japan

Kazu participated in the Japan Association of International Relations (JAIR) Annual Convention 2018, Omiya, Japan.

1 November 2018, Research Seminar at Waseda University, Tokyo, Japan

Kazu participated in an informal workshop on peace operations organized by Professor Yuji Uesugi of Waseda University, attended by key Japanese policy makers and defence officers.

27-28 October 2018, Peace Studies Association of Japan (PSAJ) Conference Autumn 2018 at Ryukoku University, Kyoto, Japan

Kazu participated in the Peace Studies Association of Japan (PSAJ) Conference Autumn 2018 at Ryukoku University, Kyoto, Japan.

Project Photos

Asian Perspectives of Peacebuilding Session at Geneva Peace Week 2019
Asian Perspectives of Peacebuilding Session at Geneva Peace Week 2019