Violence in the context of international peace interventions is rarely problematized. It is associated with the conflict belligerents, while the violence deployed by peacekeepers is not conceived as such, but as ‘peace operations’ that mitigate, subdue or deter the belligerents’ violence. This common interpretation comes from a discrimination between ‘local’ and ‘international’ that is considered theoretically necessary to understand interventions. The distinction obscures the ways in which the two kinds of violence are intimately intertwined and tied to competing claims about legitimate agency. This article analyses the peace interventions (2002–11) that led to regime change in Côte d’Ivoire. Based on this case-study analysis, it argues that violence and its representations affect and constitute agency. In Côte d’Ivoire, strict ontological commitments to the ‘local’ and ‘international’ quality of agents neglect the violence used in the context of intense negotiations over, and attempts at imposing, a line between ‘local’ and ‘international’ agency. The analysis points to how violence established, transformed, and enabled agency under conditions of international peace interventionism in Côte d’Ivoire.