The End of History and the Last Liberal Peacebuilder: A Reply to Roland Paris

Neil Cooper, Mandy Turner, Michael Pugh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In the April 2010 Review of International Studies, Roland Paris argued that liberal peacebuilding is the only viable solution for rebuilding war-torn societies, and supported this by assailing critics of the liberal peace. In this article we challenge four key claims made by Paris: imposed and consensual peacebuilding are different experiences; there are no echoes of imperialism in modern peacebuilding; there is no alternative to the capitalist free market; and critics of the liberal peace are ‘closet liberals’. We argue that Paris ignores the extent to which all peacebuilding strategies have had a core of common prescriptions: neoliberal policies of open markets, privatisation and fiscal restraint, and governance policies focused on enhancing instruments of state coercion and ‘capacity building’ – policies that have proved remarkably resilient even while the democracy and human rights components of the liberal peace have been substantially downgraded. There is little space to (formally) dissent from these policy prescriptions – whether international peacebuilders were originally invited in or not. Furthermore, the deterministic assumption by Paris that ‘there is no alternative’ is unjustifiable. Rather than trying to imagine competing meta-alternatives to liberalism, it is more constructive to acknowledge and investigate the variety of political economies in post-conflict societies rather than measuring them against a liberal norm.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1995-2007
Number of pages13
JournalReview of International Studies
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2011


  • peacebuilding
  • international intervention
  • peace and conflict studies (PCS)

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute


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