This article assesses progress on the most recent series of UN reforms that aim to enhance the organisation's capacity to prevent violent conflict. These reforms target crucial inefficiencies within the UN that have hampered effective preventive and protection practices in situations of violent conflict and atrocities. The article argues that state actors have viewed the reform process as a site of norm contestation, and negotiations have created an avenue for compromises on the centrality of human rights and political backstopping of UN missions in volatile field contexts that are vital to better prevention and protection outcomes. Contestation by state actors is significant in steering the outcomes of institutional reform as states advance their normative agendas, and seek to integrate these preferences into new institutional structures that are open to negotiation through the current reform process. A broad assessment of the direction of these reforms confirms the move towards a more pragmatic vision of peace and security in the UN to accommodate global power shifts.