University of Limerick
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The evolution of Irish peacekeeping 1978-2016

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posted on 2022-10-05, 09:28 authored by Eamonn Colclough
This thesis is concerned with how Irish peacekeeping policy and practice has evolved in response to the changing nature of international peacekeeping. It asks specific questions about how changes in international peacekeeping doctrine since the end of the Cold War have affected Irish peacekeeping policy and practice, and why, in the light of a more general disengagement by Western countries from peacekeeping, Ireland has continued to commit to a strong presence in international peacekeeping. The thesis explains what international peacekeeping is and describes the evolution of Irish peacekeeping policy and practice by reviewing the political and legislative changes in peacekeeping policy and the changing practices of peacekeeping by the Irish defence forces. In addition, four peacekeeping missions have been chosen as case studies; two of United Nations traditional peacekeeping missions and two of Regional Organisations peace-enforcement missions, namely, Lebanon, Côte d’Ivoire, Kosovo and Chad. The thesis will argue that Irish peacekeeping policy and practice has evolved slowly and has become a hybrid in which interpretation of enforcement mandates are conditioned by values and norms and organisational conventions which stretch back deeply into the force’s history. This thesis will argue that this is a not weakness, but a strength. Irish foreign policy prioritises a well regulated international environment and to that end Ireland is committed to active participation in international peacekeeping. This reflects a strong belief among politicians that peacekeeping helps to consolidate Irish international standing. The Irish army has an institutional interest in participation in peace enforcement operations with United Nations and Regional Organisations; indeed without such engagements it would have been reduced long ago to a very limited domestic range of functions to do with internal security and ceremonial. However, United Nations peacekeeping operations remain the main function of the Irish defence forces, enjoys cross-party political support, and continues to be a source of Irish patriotic pride.



  • Doctoral

First supervisor

Lodge, Tom





Department or School

  • Politics & Public Administration

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