The need for justification of peacebuilding involvements is always present. In addition, as this thesis argues, justification is particularly needed when there is a prevalent power asymmetry between an external state and a host community. This dissertation addresses how states’ attempts to justify their engagement in peacebuilding should be evaluated in the light of justification theory. This study develops the theory of justification offered by Rainer Forst, by testing Forst’s formal criteria of reciprocity and generality on two case studies, the Republic of South Africa and the Russian Federation. The analysis shows that Forst’s formal criteria are useful, but not sufficient, to analyse states’ justificatory attempts. The focus on how Russia and South Africa view, act, and try to justify their peacebuilding efforts, serves to further nuance our understanding of the justification of external states in peacebuilding processes. This study presents two typologies of the attempts at justification which Russia and South Africa make in their foreign policy discourse.


The seminar will address the main findings of the study and highlight similarities and differences between the two case studies. The study is making use of various methods and approaches, including case studies, interviews, and document analysis, which will be discussed at the seminar. The study is written within the critical discipline of social ethics, and aims to contribute both to our understanding of Russian and South African engagements in peacebuilding processes abroad, as well as justification of peacebuilding and the role of ethics and morality in foreign policy more generally.


Johanna Ohlsson is a PhD candidate at the Institute for Russian and Eurasian Studies (IRES) and at the Faculty of Theology (in Ethics) at Uppsala University.