2019 Silencing Their Critics: How Effective Are Governments in Restricting Civil Society? (with Kristin M. Bakke, Neil Mitchell and Dominic Perera).

Abstract: International ‘naming and shaming’ campaigns rely on domestic civil society organizations to provide information on local human rights conditions. Earlier research takes this flow of information for granted. Yet, some governments restrict CSOs to silence criticism, for example limiting access to funding. Are such government-imposed restrictions effective? Do they reduce international ‘naming and shaming’ campaigns that rely on information by domestic CSOs? We argue that on the one hand, restrictions may reduce CSOs’ ability and motives to monitor local abuses. On the other hand, CSOs may mobilize against restrictions and find new ways of delivering information on abuses to international publics. Using a novel cross-national dataset and in-depth evidence from Egypt, we find that few restrictions indeed trigger greater CSO activity, increasing international shaming. Yet, once governments impose multiple restrictions, it becomes harder for CSOs to adapt, resulting in fewer shaming campaigns.

2019 When States Crack Down on Human Rights Defenders (with Kristin M. Bakke and Neil Mitchell)

Abstract: Research suggests that civil society mobilization together with the ratification of human rights treaties put pressure on governments to improve their human rights practices. An unexplored theoretical implication is that pressure provokes counter-pressure. Instead of improving treaty compliance, some governments will have an interest in de-mobilizing civil society to silence their critics. Yet we do not know how and to what extent this incentive shapes governments’ policies and practice regarding civil society organizations. We argue and show—using a new global database of government-sponsored restrictions on civil society organizations—that when governments have committed to human rights or humanitarian law treaties and, at the same time, continue to commit severe human rights abuses, they employ more restrictions on monitoring civil society groups to reduce international costs for abuses.

The use of force in UN peacekeeping operations: Micro-level mechanisms of peacekeeping during the 2015 elections in Côte d’Ivoire

Abstract: How does the use of force in UN peacekeeping operations influence political leaders’ perceptions, attitudes and behavioural intentions regarding the use of election violence? While we know that UN peacekeepers help deter election violence across countries, individual-level mechanisms remain empirically under-studied. Using evidence from field research-based interviews during the 2015 electoral period in Côte d’Ivoire, UN documents and news reports, the present study fills this gap. Findings suggest that local political leaders were aware of UN peacekeepers’ efforts and felt more secure as a result. Government and moderate opposition leaders felt encouraged to peacefully engage in elections. However, a perceived lack of preventive measures and perceptions of partiality constrained UN peacekeepers’ ability to positively affect political leaders’ attitudes to violence and intentions to peacefully participate in elections.

2019 Making or breaking peace: How UN deployment and activities influence electoral violence.

Abstract: UN peacekeeping operations (PKOs) promote elections to support transitions from war to institutional politics. Yet, elections renew competition and sometimes reignite violence. Can PKOs mitigate election violence? Beyond the present research focus on PKO personnel numbers, this study argues that we need to consider peacekeepers’ activities on the ground to answer this question. Increasing troop numbers alone may not function as an effective means to reduce election violence. More PKO troops result in higher costs and, consequently, greater international pressure for PKO withdrawal. Therefore, PKOs may advocate earlier elections to hand-over responsibilities to an elected government. Yet, early elections are also associated with a higher risk of election violence. In addition, larger PKOs are more effective in preventing battlefield victory. By consequence, spoiler may target “unprotected” elections to undermine a peace deal. However, if PKOs are designed to secure and assist the organization of elections, more personnel may be associated with fewer events of election violence. Increasing personnel can strengthen PKOs’ activities to protect voters, candidates and election workers, optimise their material and logistical election support and signal greater international engagement for peaceful elections. Employing a novel dataset on PKOs’ activities during electoral periods and accounting for endogeneity in both deployment and policy choice, the statistical analysis of 445 elections in war-torn countries provides robust evidence that the impact of PKO personnel on electoral peace is conditional on PKO election-related activities.

What do the peacekeepers do, where and how? The determinants of UN peacebuilding activities during election times

Abstract: What do UN missions do on the ground for containing electoral violence in conflict-affected countries? While previous research has investigated where UN peace operations are deployed across and within countries and the type of UN conflict management efforts, including diplomacy and sanctions, a systematic analysis of the choice of UN peace-building activities during electoral periods is missing. This paper argues that the UN invests more resources in activities assisting electoral security when threats of electoral violence loom larger. Variation in UN peace operations’ electoral security assistance follows this instrumental logic because member states seek to minimize negative externalities, UN bureaucrats seek to uphold organizational legitimacy and elections maximize attention and pressure on the UN to adequately respond to electoral conflict threats. However, UN Security Council members and UN host state governments may also shape the choice of UN peace operations’ activities to in uence their interests. Using new disaggregated data on the activities of 44 UN peacekeeping and political missions in 119 electoral periods in 31 conflict-affected countries from 1990 to 2012, this study finds that election-related security threats positively influence UN investment in electoral security assistance but that historical and military ties between UN host countries and powerful UN member states also play a role. The results imply that the UN can live up to its humanitarian and security mission and that self-selection into the most violent elections needs to be taken into account to avoid under estimating the UN’s positive contribution to electoral peace.

Peacekeeping and election violence

Abstract: Democracy assistance, including eorts to promote electoral security, is often a central component of the peace-building activities that multidimensional peacekeeping forces are set to do. Whereas numerous studies show that peacekeepers can eectively reduce civil war violence, research has produced mixed and null ndings regarding peacekeepers’ influence on democratization. Given how central the institutionalization of accountable and inclusive governance has been in the international peace-building agenda, it is important to understand these divergent findings. This paper takes a step in this direction and examines whether and how United Nations (UN) peacekeepers can assist democratic transition by promoting peaceful elections. We provide the rst comprehensive sub-national study of peacekeeping effectiveness in reducing the risk of electoral violence in the critical post-conflict electoral period. We combine geo-referenced data on peacekeeping deployment across all multidimensional peacekeeping missions in Africa over the past two decades with similarly ne grained data on the incidence of electoral violence. Our results show that peacekeepers reduce the risk of electoral violence. However, their contribution to electoral security is only moderate.

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.

2019. Mitigating election violence locally: UN peacekeepers’ election-education campaigns in Côte d’Ivoire

Abstract: In war-torn countries, elections are often accompanied by violence-inciting disinformation campaigns, including rumours and hate speech, which spur violent collective action. To counter such disinformation campaigns, United Nations peacekeeping operations (UN PKOs) routinely organize election-education events. While the extant research tends to focus on how peacekeepers affect armed group and state behaviour, this study shifts the focus to civilians. It argues that peacekeepers’ election education influences people’s perceptions, attitudes and behaviours and reduces collective election violence locally. Learning about UN support for secure elections during such education events can convince people that political opponents will not be able to violently disturb elections, thereby mitigating fears of election violence. Also, election-education events provide politically relevant information that can strengthen political efficacy and people’s ability to make use of peaceful political channels. Finally, peace messages during election-education events can change individuals’ calculus about the utility and appropriateness of violent behaviour. Together, these activities can help people resist disinformation campaigns and, consequently, reduce violent protest and rioting locally. To test these expectations, I combine survey data on people’ perceptions and attitudes, events data on violent protest and rioting, and a novel dataset on local-level election-education events carried out by the UN PKO in Côte d’Ivoire from 2009 to 2016. The results show that when the UN PKO is perceived to be an impartial arbiter, its election-education events have violence-reducing effects at the individual and subnational levels.