Research

You can view working papers and published articles on United Nations peacekeeping from affiliated researchers below.

Working papers

Non-Combatants or Counter-Insurgents? The Strategic Logic of Violence against UN Peacekeeping

Abstract

Despite the wealth of academic research on United Nations (UN) peacekeeping operations, we know remarkably little about the causes of violence against peacekeepers. The dramatic increase in peacekeeper casualties over the past decade make this omission particularly problematic. This article demonstrates that violence against peacekeepers stems from strategic motivations. Peacekeepers in multidimensional PKOs serve as substitute providers of governance and security, working to bolster perceived state capacity and legitimacy in areas where the government cannot send its own forces. Insurgents target peacekeepers in expectation of a PKO unit's capacity to win over the support of local civilians. We argue that insurgents rely on three primary heuristics to predict the downstream efficacy of peacekeeping forces: personnel composition, peacekeeper nationality, and local levels of insurgent control. We test our theory using an original dataset of geocoded UN multidimensional peacekeeping deployments peacekeeping deployments. Using primary documents sourced directly from the UN covering 10 multidimensional peacekeeping operations from 1999-2018, we present comprehensive time-series data on UN peacekeeper deployment location. We find preliminary evidence that peacekeepers are targeted because of their cultural similarity with noncombatants and, in some cases, because they patrol areas where insurgents have political control.

Hunnicutt, Patrick, William G. Nomikos, and Rob Williams. "Non-Combatants or Counter-Insurgents? The Strategic Logic of Violence against UN Peacekeeping."

The Effects of UN Peacekeeping on Civilian Victimization: Evaluating Microlevel Evidence

Abstract

Peacekeeping operations are among the most visible and impactful of United Nations activities. These missions have proven effective at protecting civilians in both active conflicts and post-conflict societies. However, recent research suggests that United Nations peacekeepers do not protect civilians equally from all types of violence. Peacekeepers require the consent of the government to gain access to specific areas of the state's territory, and so must balance their need for access with their duty to protect civilians from state-perpetrated violence. We employ microlevel data to explore where different types of peacekeeping personnel are deployed within conflicts and how these decisions affect the overall effectiveness of United Nations efforts to protect civilians.

Nomikos, William G. and Rob Williams. "The Effects of UN Peacekeeping on Civilian Victimization: Evaluating Microlevel Evidence."

Publications

Peacekeeping and the Enforcement of Intergroup Cooperation: Evidence from Mali

Abstract

Despite the abundance of evidence that peacekeeping works, we know little about what actually makes peacekeepers effective. Recent work suggesting that local agendas are central to modern conflicts make this omission particularly problematic. The article demonstrates that the presence of peacekeepers makes individuals more optimistic about the risks of engagement and the likelihood that members of outgroups will reciprocate cooperation. I use data from a lab-in-the-field experiment conducted in Mali, a West African country with an active conflict managed by troops from France and the United Nations (UN), to show that UN peacekeepers increase the willingness of individuals to cooperate relative to control and French enforcers. Moreover, I find that UN peacekeepers are especially effective among those participants who hold other groups and institutions in low esteem as well as those who have more frequent contact with peacekeepers. Follow-up interviews and surveys suggest that perceptions of the UN as unbiased rather than other mechanisms account for its effectiveness.

Nomikos, William G. 2020. "Peacekeeping and the Enforcement of Intergroup Cooperation: Evidence from Mali." Journal of Politics Conditionally accepted.

The military has ousted Mali’s president. That raises questions about the country’s ongoing security challenges.

Nomikos, William G. Melanie Sauter, Rob Williams and Patrick Hunnicutt. 2020. "The military has ousted Mali’s president. That raises questions about the country's ongoing security challenges." Washington Post.

Why Share? An Analysis of the Sources of Power-Sharing after Conflict

Abstract

Why do former belligerents institutionalize power-sharing arrangements after a civil war ends? The choice of power-sharing institutions shapes the nature of governance in many post-conflict settings. A better understanding of how belligerents come to choose institutionalized forms of power-sharing would thus help us explain how belligerents come to make a seemingly simple institutional choice that may have immense consequences. Existing scholarship emphasizes the nature of the conflict preceding negotiations, international actors, or state institutional capacity as critical factors for determining whether former belligerents will agree to share power or not. Yet these accounts overlook the importance of political considerations between and within ethnic groups. This article argues that elites create power-sharing institutions when the most significant threat to their political power comes from an outside group as opposed to from within their own group. That is, forward-looking and power-minded leaders of former belligerents push for the type of power-sharing at the negotiating table that affords them the greatest opportunity to influence country-level politics after the conflict has concluded in full. For elites facing competition from outside, this means securing power-sharing through institutional rules and guidelines in the settlement of the civil war to ensure that they are included in the governance of the state. By contrast, for elites fearing in-group rivals, complex governance institutions are at best unnecessary and, at worst, a significant concession to weaker opponents. I test the argument with a cross-national analysis of an original dataset of 186 power-sharing negotiations from 1945–2011. The empirical analysis suggests that elites are most likely to institutionalize power-sharing when no single ethnic group dominates politics and when most ethnic groups are unified. The quantitative analysis is complemented with illustrative examples from cases of power-sharing negotiations that offer insight into the proposed theoretical mechanisms.

Nomikos, William G. 2020. "Why Share? An Analysis of the Sources of Power-Sharing after Conflict." Journal of Peace Research OnlineFirst. doi:10.1177/0022343320929732

Nationality, Gender, and Deployments at the Local Level: Introducing the RADPKO Dataset

Abstract

This paper introduces the Robust Africa Deployments of Peacekeeping Operations (RADPKO) dataset, a new dataset of geocoded United Nations peacekeeping deployments. Drawing upon primary documents sourced directly from the UN covering 10 multidimensional peacekeeping operations from 1999 to 2018, RADPKO offers comprehensive monthly time-series data on UN peacekeeper deployment location by type, gender, and nationality. We describe the data collection in detail and discuss the cases and time periods missing from the data. We show that although the UN responds dynamically to conflict events in the field, deployments outside of population centres tend to be fairly homogeneous in regard to both nationality and gender. We use this data to empirically investigate the oft-posited link between deployment of peacekeepers and reductions in violence at the local level. We replicate and extend past studies but find that some previous findings are vulnerable to robustness checks, primarily due to data incompleteness. Our analysis suggests the importance of data collection transparency, management, and description to the quantitative study of peacekeeping. The data, updated annually, provides new opportunities for scholar conducting micro-level research on peacekeeping, conflict, development, governances, and related topics across subfields in Political science.

Hunnicutt, Patrick and William G. Nomikos. 2020. "Nationality, Gender, and Deployments at the Local Level: Introducing the RADPKO Dataset." International Peacekeeping 24(7): 645-672. doi:10.1080/13533312.2020.1738228