How Peace Operations Did Not Emerge as a Norm after the First World War

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The execution of international plebiscites and international administrations in post-World War I Germany was chosen as a case study because it is accepted as an early model of peace operations. It held promise for the emergence of a new norm for resolving territorial disputes according to the principle of self-determination. In order to understand why the norm failed in its early emergence stage process, the paper analyzes the discussions on Germany territorial disputes among the three main Powers − France, Great-Britain and the United States − during the Paris Peace Conference of 1919 as the constitutive stage. Then it compares it with the execution of international operations in Germany. The paper combines IR theory with international history. It shows that a ‘norm amalgamation’ is a precondition for a norm to emerge. The norm entrepreneurs have to amalgamate an ideational-constitutive process with an operational-appropriateness. In the case studies it shows that during the discussions of the victorious Powers there were several tensions and dilemmas: a tension between the ‘old norm’ and ‘new norms’. Moreover, The Powers were also divided concerning the process of operational-procedures.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)524-539
Number of pages16
JournalInternational History Review
Issue number3
StateE-pub ahead of print - 2021


  • Germany
  • Norm emergence
  • international administration
  • international plebiscites
  • post First World War


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