Neutral in favour of whom? The UN intervention in Somalia and the Somaliland peace process

Debora Valentina Malito*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


To what extent is making peace not a neutral or impartial exercise? By analysing the peace initiatives undertaken in Somalia and Somaliland (1991–95), this article questions the positionality and alignment of the actors involved, and claims that neither process has been an impartial exercise. To explore this argument the article first theoretically frames how supporters and critics of liberal peace elaborate on the dilemma of neutrality and impartiality. Departing from Lederach’s criticism of impartiality, I claim that the UN–US intervention in Somalia has been an instrument of division, as well as leverage for political and military advantage. External interveners have initially subverted the internal distribution of power, but they lacked the commitment and material capacity of sustaining the preferred ‘winning’ faction. By unpacking the category of ‘local’ I then map the protagonists of the Somaliland pacification, as well the mechanism of institution-building that enabled a multi-scale of stakeholders to sustain the conflict resolution. This analysis contributes to reconceptualise the political architecture of making peace. It also helps to disentangle the study of peace and violence from the myths of the liberal, neutral, intervention doctrine.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)280-303
Number of pages24
JournalInternational Peacekeeping
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2017
Externally publishedYes


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