In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Peacekeeping

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Data Sources
  • United Nations Perspectives on Peacekeeping
  • Collective Security and the Use of Force
  • Peacekeeping Operations: Select Campaigns
  • National Military Perspectives on Peackeeping
  • Peacekeeping in a Unipolar World: US Perspectives
  • Non-UN Peacekeeping Forces
  • Implications of Peacekeeping Operations
  • Future of Peacekeeping

International Relations Peacekeeping
Erik K. Rundquist
  • LAST REVIEWED: 02 March 2011
  • LAST MODIFIED: 02 March 2011
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199743292-0005


Although the term “peacekeeping” is not defined in the original 1945 United Nations (UN) Charter, the act of using civilian police and military forces to deter and halt conflict has been used on at least sixty-three major operations around the world since 1948. Chapter VI of the UN Charter covers the pacific settlement of disputes whereby the Security Council can decide to take action if a dispute is “likely to endanger the maintenance of international peace and security.” Likewise, Chapter VII of the UN Charter describes the Security Council’s activities concerning threats and breaches to the peace about which the UN may “take such action by air, sea, or land forces as may be necessary to maintain or restore international peace and security. Such action may include demonstrations, blockade, and other operations by air, sea, or land forces of Members of the United Nations.” To highlight the murkiness of peacekeeping, the second UN Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld is purported to have said that peace operations should fall under “Chapter Six and a Half” of the UN Charter. The goals of this bibliography are to familiarize readers and researchers on the evolution of peacekeeping operations using various works from the 1970s to 2010 in order to better understand the complex nature of these types of missions. The bibliography seeks to examine peacekeeping from multiple reference points to include time (Cold War vs. post–Cold War), geography (campaigns involving peacekeeping operations around the world), actor (perspectives of nations and non-UN coalitions that contribute to peacekeeping forces), activity (ranging from traditional peacekeeping to enforce cease-fire agreements and the use of lightly armed military observer teams, to more aggressive peace enforcement operations without consent of the belligerents), and operating environment (complex humanitarian relief operations conducted in the midst of intrastate conflict and civil war).

Disclaimer: The views expressed are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the US government or the Department of Defense.

General Overviews

Several texts provide a general overview of peacekeeping operations and introduce some of the problems inherent in multinational force missions in complex environments (e.g., lack of governance, racial and ethnic warfare, destroyed infrastructure, epidemics, and refugees). Fabian 1971, an introductory text, provides early perspectives on United Nations peacekeeping and introduces the basic problems of collective security and preparedness to conduct missions around the world. Diehl 2008 offers a more modern perspective on the same issues of collective security. MacQueen 2006 examines the peacekeeping and its role in collective security, even before the founding of the United Nations in 1948. Benton 1996 considers the blending of peacekeeping operations and humanitarian relief operations as well as determining mission success. Bellamy, et al. 2004 presents an overview to differentiate between different types of peacekeeping operations. Hillen 1998 examines peacekeeping and notes strategic and tactical differences between two distinct generations of peacekeeping. Thakur and Schnabel 2001 takes the generational divide further and demonstrates that the evolution of peace operations can be divided into six unique generations. Finally, Fortna 2008 provides a statistical analysis on the overall success of peacekeeping operations.

  • Bellamy, Alex J., Paul Williams, and Stuart Griffin. Understanding Peacekeeping. Cambridge, UK: Blackwell, 2004.

    Overview of peacekeeping examines concepts and issues, historical development, types of peacekeeping (traditional, wider, peace enforcement, and peace support operations), and challenges. Notes blurring concepts of post–Cold War peacekeeping, the emergence of nonstate actors, and gaps between peacekeeping theories versus experiences. Suitable for undergraduate and graduate study. Extensive bibliography.

  • Benton, Barbara, ed. Soldiers for Peace: Fifty Years of United Nations Peacekeeping. New York: Facts on File, 1996.

    Multiple contributors cover a wide array of issues, including UN peacekeeping tactics and solving complex command and control issues within a multinational force. Contributors also examine the blending of humanitarian and peacekeeping missions, the future of UN peacekeeping, defining mission success/victory, and several historical case studies.

  • Diehl, Paul. Peace Operations. Cambridge, UK: Polity, 2008.

    Solid introductory overview of peacekeeping operations that examines types of peacekeeping (traditional and military), and offers a detailed historical narrative of missions, how these are structured (UN, regional, multinational, and ad hoc), and an analysis of the effectiveness of such missions. General history is acceptable for undergraduate work. Extensive bibliography.

  • Fabian, Larry L. Soldiers without Enemies: Preparing the United Nations for Peacekeeping. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution, 1971.

    Provides a broad overview of UN peacekeeping operations from a Cold War perspective. Examines initial questions on UN peacekeeping preparedness, former UN Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld’s perspective on collective security and force employment, national preparedness with supporting nations (mainly Nordic countries and Canada), and policy implications.

  • Fortna, Virginia Page. Does Peacekeeping Work? Shaping Belligerents’ Choices after Civil War. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2008.

    Examines the effectiveness and implications of peacekeeping operations by addressing three major gaps: peacekeeper’s empirical contributions to lasting peace, causal mechanisms on how peacekeepers affect the peace, and perspectives on how the peace was kept after redeployment of forces. Quantitative analysis and case studies appropriate for graduate students and research analysts on the peacekeeping.

  • Hillen, John. Blue Helmets: The Strategy of UN Military Operations. Washington, DC: Brassey’s, 1998.

    Examines specific mission sets for peacekeeping activities and charts the complex command and control relationships involved in UN operations. Asserts that there are strategic and operational differences between traditional peacekeeping and military observer missions vs. second-generation peacekeeping. The second-generation missions involve operating in more dynamic environments with more ambitious end states.

  • MacQueen, Norrie. Peacekeeping and the International System. New York: Routledge, 2006.

    Contends peacekeeping is a useful international relations option and highlights that these efforts are not just a post–Cold War phenomenon, but have been active since the end of World War I. Examines the historical phases of peacekeeping to include operational employment before the formation of the United Nations, UN peacekeeping as a method of collective security following World War II, regional peacekeeping as an aid to decolonization, and finally post–Cold War activities.

  • Thakur, Ramesh, and Albrecht Schnabel, eds. United Nations Peacekeeping Operations: Ad Hoc Missions, Permanent Engagement. New York: United Nations University Press, 2001.

    General overview on peacekeeping by multiple contributors, with special attention to the former Yugoslavia, Kosovo, Cambodia, and East Timor. Chapters focus on civilian police support to peace operations, the UN Secretariat’s focus on organizing peacekeeping, and potentially changing roles. Thakur and Schnabel’s chapter identifies six “generations” of peacekeeping: traditional, pending peace; non-UN peacekeeping; expanded peacekeeping, peace reinforcement; peace enforcement; peace restoration by partnership; and multinational peace restoration.

back to top

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content on this page. Please subscribe or login.

How to Subscribe

Oxford Bibliographies Online is available by subscription and perpetual access to institutions. For more information or to contact an Oxford Sales Representative click here.