Catriona Standfield

PhD Candidate in the Department of Political Science in the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University

Gender and Legitimacy in United Nations Mediation

 

Abstract
In my dissertation, Gender and Legitimacy in United Nations Mediation, I examine the United Nations’ struggles to implement gender equality reforms in its conflict mediation work. I use interpretive methods to analyse evidence drawn from thirty-seven interviews with UN mediation practitioners in New York and Nairobi, UN guidance documentation and grey literature, and participant observation of internal UN trainings on gender and mediation. I find that contestation over UN mediation – whether it is a diplomatic art of managing relationships or a technical science of conflict management – affects the implementation of gender reforms in different ways. Narratives and practices associated with the view of mediation as an art exclude women by creating informal, male-only spaces. Meanwhile, technical approaches to mediation depoliticise the role of gender relations in conflict, reducing the perceived importance of including gender issues in negotiations. This project is the first in-depth, scholarly study of gender reforms in UN mediation. Moreover, it contributes to debates in International Relations over the role of the everyday. Scholars have made the case for the importance of everyday practices, but often overlook how these are implicated in broader gender relations, which I parse in detail. Finally, studies of gender reform in peacebuilding do not account for the historical changes in how the UN does its work. I identify how these shifts give rise to narratives and practices that undermine gender reforms in different, often competing ways.

Biography
Catriona Standfield is a PhD candidate in the Department of Political Science in the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University. In August 2019, she will join the Kroc Center for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame as a Visiting Research Fellow. Catriona’s research focuses on gender in mediation and diplomacy. Her current project examines how the United Nations has implemented gender equality reforms in its conflict mediation work. Catriona has presented her research at the International Studies Association Northeast Conference and the International Studies Association Annual Conference. She has received funding from the Andrew Berlin Family National Security Foundation and the Maxwell School of Citizenship of Public Affairs.