Normative Encounters between the ‘Global’ and the ‘Local’: : Women, Peace and Security in Mali and Rwanda

Abstract: This thesis examines the multiple and often overlapping encounters between ‘global’ and ‘local’ norms, actors, practices, and discourses which take place when norms travel between different socio-political contexts. This is done through a study of how global gender equality norms embedded in the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda are promoted in two war to peace transitions: Mali and Rwanda. Since the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 in 2000, the WPS agenda has emerged as a powerful international normative framework and has become a key component of international peacebuilding efforts. Through four papers, the thesis demonstrates how global and local actors engage with WPS norms in multiple, overlapping and sometimes unexpected ways, producing a range of outcomes that shape both the meanings and trajectories of norms. The thesis advances the empirical study of norms by combining a number of analytical approaches and data sources, including unique and comprehensive data on the peace process in Mali generated through extensive fieldwork. It outlines a conceptual framework for studying normative encounters and related processes of contestation, friction, localization and appropriation. These processes are explored in the papers, where I develop existing theories and concepts from the literatures on the ‘agency of the governed’ and critical peacebuilding. Together, the papers provide important insights concerning the ability of agents to shape the meanings and trajectories of norms through meaning-making practices. These include practices of resistance and refinement at the Malian peace negotiations (Paper 1), frictional interactions in the Malian peace process (Paper 2), discursive practices of re-presentation by local elites in Mali (Paper 3) and policy production by the Government of Rwanda (Paper 4). Further, when agents are involved in these processes, they construct and produce new meanings and realities through their engagement with norms. The thesis shows how actors contribute to increased norm precision through the development of operating principles (Paper 1), how they construct positions and locations from which to claim authority and legitimacy (Papers 2, 3 and 4), as well as new identities (Papers 2 and 3) and subjects to be governed (Papers 3 and 4).

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