2021. Peacekeepers without helmets: How violence shapes local peacebuilding by civilian peacekeepers (with Allard Duursma)

Abstract: Why do civilian personnel in United Nations (UN) peacekeeping operations (PKO) organize more peacebuilding activities in some areas of their host country and less in other areas? All newly deployed PKOs in Africa are mandated to prevent violent local conflicts through peacebuilding activities by civilian personnel. Yet, since extant research focuses on military peacekeeping, we lack theoretical and empirical knowledge of these efforts. This study helps fill this gap. We argue that civilian peacekeepers concentrate their peacebuilding activities in the most violence-affected areas because they have personal and professional incentives to fulfil their mission of de-escalating and preventing local conflict. However, violence also poses security threats to civilian personnel and severe violence thus reduces their local activities. We use unique geo-referenced information on various local peacebuilding activities from UN Civil Affairs in the Central African Republic in the 2016-2018 period to probe our argument across and within subprefectures. Controlling for influential factors, such as military deployments, road network and food insecurity, and instrumenting endogenous violence with the interaction between diamond prizes and the distance to diamond mines mitigate against potential biases. We find that there is indeed a curvilinear relationship between violence and peacebuilding efforts, which is most pronounced for one-sided violence. We further find that the identity of local co-organizers of peacebuilding activities influences the relationship between violence and peacebuilding. While violence tends to reduce peacebuilding activities co-organized by state authorities, violence seems encourage peacebuilding activities co-organized by civil society groups.

[1] Equal authorship is implied.

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