2019 United Nations peacekeeping locally: Enabling conflict resolution, reducing communal violence

Abstract: United Nations peacekeeping operations (UN PKOs) increasingly engage with local communities to support peace processes in war-torn countries. Yet while existing research tends to focus on the coercive and state-building functions of UN PKOs, their concrete local activities with community leaders and populations remain, empirically and theoretically, under-studied. Thus, this study investigates how peacekeepers’ community-based intergroup dialogue activities influence communal violence. It argues that facilitating dialogue between different communal identity-based groups locally can revive intergroup coordination and diminish negative biases against other groups, thereby reducing the risk of communal conflict escalation. This argument is tested using a novel dataset of intergroup dialogue activities organized by the UN PKO in Côte d’Ivoire across 107 departments from October 2011 to May 2016. Bivariate probit and matching address the non-random assignment of these interventions. The analyses provide robust evidence that the UN PKO mitigated communal violence by organizing intergroup dialogues.

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