Capacity-building or Capacity-taking? Legitimizing Concepts in Peace and Development Operations

This article critically analyses capacity-building and local ownership in the context of UN peace operations through interviews with UN staff and NGO representatives in Liberia and Burundi. The argument is that these concepts are left ambiguous and undefined to avoid accountability for peace operations while still functioning as value-adding and legitimizing discursive instruments for the latter. This article proves that the many paradoxes and contradictions surrounding the concepts clearly deter their operation in practice, while their positive connotations remain important, discursively, as legitimizing tools.