Stefan Bächtold

Effectiveness for whom? Analysis of the discourse on accountability in Peacebuilding

This research project is contributing to the critical reflection on current peacebuilding practice. By analyzing ‘technical’ practices and their underlying assumptions, it sheds light on an aspect of peacebuilding that goes largely unnoticed, but which is reproducing dominant discourses and power hierarchies between actors in this policy field.
The recent emergence of results-orientation in the peacebuilding field came with a proliferation of standards, concepts, and ever more sophisticated methods for designing, monitoring and evaluating peacebuilding. But while there is debate on appropriate methods and approaches, the larger demand for increased results-orientation is taken largely for granted. How is it possible that a field like peacebuilding, which is facing inherent challenges for the application of standard DM&E approaches, became almost unanimously viewed in terms of the results it can achieve?
This PhD research project thus aims at critically analyzing the discourses on results-orientation in peacebuilding. How is the ground on which results-orientation becomes an appropriate response to perceived problems of peacebuilding constituted? How do the dispositives of these discourses affect practice, and how do they relate to larger discourses beyond this policy field? How are different actors drawing on ongoing discourses to construct legitimacy for peacebuilding? And, how do dominant discourses de-legitimize and invalidate other accounts?
Methodologically, this project relies on a genealogical analysis, combined with ethnographically oriented data production methods. It is drawing on empirical field research in Myanmar to contrast dominant international discourses with competing ‘local’ discourses.

Supervisor: Laurent Goetschel

Co-Supervisor: Sabine Maasen (TUM)



Stefan Bächtold holds an M.A. in social science from the Universities of Fribourg and Berne with a focus on social problems and social policy, as well as political science. For his master thesis, he analyzed the conditions for the success of peacebuilding; adopting a comparative perspective on interventions in Sub-Saharan Africa. After graduation, he worked in West Darfur, Sudan, as a reporting and communications officer for the Swiss Foundation "Terre des hommes" (Lausanne). He also worked for Tdh in Switzerland, and as a research project assistant at the Institute for Research on Management of Associations, Foundations and Cooperatives (VMI) at the University of Fribourg. He is currently a program officer at the Peacebuilding Analysis and Impact Program at swisspeace, and is a PhD-candidate at the University of Basel.

Memberships: IGS North-South