Political Science Peace Operations
by
Kai Michael Kenkel
  • LAST MODIFIED: 31 July 2019
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756223-0146

Introduction

Peace operations (POs)—the deployment of military, police, and civilian personnel by multilateral organizations with a view to preventing and terminating conflicts and reconstructing societies in their wake—are the most visible tool of collective security today and constitute a major field of debate and inquiry among academics and practitioners. Just as peace operations have progressed from a limited ad hoc practice to complex multidimensional undertakings, so too the literature on peace operations has undergone significant changes since the end of the Cold War. The field retains evidence of its origins in empirical, policy-oriented writings; it still harbors a penchant for case studies and a focus on solving specific policy problems. However, as time has passed, analysis of peace operations has gained theoretical sophistication, from more conceptually oriented approaches to its institutional framework to a prolific questioning of liberal peacebuilding practice grounded in critical, constructivist, and postmodern social theory. In a reversal of the trend that began with the policy-relevant harnessing of concepts as the basis for analyses of specific missions, peace operations now serve as testing grounds for a variety of higher-order analytical approaches. The products of these approaches range from gendered analyses to philosophical critiques of liberalism to treatments of the normative and material motivations of belligerents, contributing states, and great powers to participate in what will remain a key international practice in the foreseeable future. The categorizing terminology used here follows partially the practice established by the United Nations in An Agenda for Peace, dividing operations into traditional (low-force) peacekeeping, (high-force) peace enforcement, and peacebuilding. Peace operations are identified as those deployed by the United Nations Security Council and multilateral bodies it recognizes, reserving separate nomenclature for other types of intervention.

General Overviews

Bellamy, et al. 2010 and Diehl and Balas 2014 are the two primary general analytical works on peace operations, with the former being more comprehensive in scope and offering more detailed case studies. The other works cited trace the move from early research focused on organization or effectiveness to later cultural and bottom-up perspectives. Durch 1993 lays the groundwork for understanding the UN’s functioning as an organization, a topic that was for long the focus of much of the literature. MacQueen 2006 provides a case-study focus on Africa within this tradition. Rubinstein 2008 moves beyond this to an anthropological analysis of the culture of interventions. Pouligny 2006 leaves the top-down focus behind to adopt an approach from the viewpoint of local populations who interact with peace operations.

  • Bellamy, Alex, Paul Williams, and Stuart Griffin. Understanding Peacekeeping. 2d ed. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, 2010.

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    The definitive analytical work on peace operations. Navigates between analysis and examples to situate POs in international relations (IR) literature, provide a historical progression, and give a useful categorization of mission types. A must for students, and an excellent volume that can serve as a structuring reference for research at all levels.

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  • Diehl, Paul, and Alexandru Balas. Peace Operations. 2d ed. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, 2014.

    DOI: 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199686049.013.3Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Revised edition of another crucial general work. Particularly suited for syllabi, with longer chapters and a discursive style. The chapter on the organization of POs within the UN is a primary reference on the topic; it further outlines the main challenges facing POs in the future.

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  • Durch, William, ed. The Evolution of UN Peacekeeping: Case Studies and Comparative Analysis. New York: St. Martin’s, 1993.

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    A key early work aimed at graduate and advanced undergraduate students that, beyond case studies, gives a clear overview of UN functioning, the challenges facing POs, and the utility of missions as a conflict resolution practice.

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

    DOI: 10.4324/9780203306116Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Couples a predominantly chronological conceptual analysis of the historical progression of POs with case studies and a longer section on the specificities of POs in Africa. An excellent starting point for mission case studies, though not the very latest.

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  • Pouligny, Beatrice. Peace Operations Seen from Below: UN Missions and Local People. London: Hurst, 2006.

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    Deconstructs certain assumptions that pervade UN peacekeeping and peacebuilding practice by adopting the perspective of the local actors with whom they interact. For researchers, an excellent transition from introductory references to detailed case studies.

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  • Rubinstein, Robert A. Peacekeeping under Fire: Culture and Intervention. Boulder, CO: Paradigm, 2008.

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    An ethnographic analysis of POs as a conflict resolution practice. Unites IR and anthropological analysis to focus on the culture of POs, combining the micro and macro levels of the functioning of missions. Useful as a precursor to studies of why POs succeed or fail, as well as more generally on how the UN operates.

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Reference Works

The websites of the United Nations have become increasingly transparent, functioning now as a comprehensive source of statistics, documents, and background information on missions and policy initiatives. The UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations website is more of a basic introduction, with the Peacekeeping Resource Hub providing more analytical pieces and more detailed UN process documents. To an extent, both have taken the place of the massive volume The Blue Helmets (United Nations 1996), which earlier had been the standard source for empirical information, though it follows the UN’s own political guidelines very tightly. Center on International Cooperation (CIC) 2006– has emerged as a prime source of statistics beyond what can be derived from the UN sites, with considerable additional research involved in generating the available statistics. The Center for International Peace Operations in Berlin is a policy-oriented research and training center for peace operations and provides a slightly different focus from the standard anglophone sources. The Providing for Peacekeeping website is a recent initiative (2012) of the International Peace Institute and two universities that produces detailed country briefs on almost all troop-contributing countries. Koops, et al. 2015 is the most comprehensive encyclopedic source on peace operations, organized by analytical topic and mission.

Journals

International Peacekeeping remains the key reference in the field, followed closely by the Journal of International Peacekeeping. Both combine analytical articles and empirical case studies, and they produce relatively frequent thematic special issues that quickly become the key references on a topic. The other journals are more specifically focused on peacebuilding, state-building, and broader attendant issues such as the nexus among security, development, and institutions. All the journals tend toward a critical perspective on the principles and implementation of peace operations, though this is more markedly the case with the more recently founded journals that deal specifically with peacebuilding.

United Nations Documents

Three main UN documents govern the carrying out of peace operations. Each roughly corresponds to the transition from one phase of peace operations to the next. Those looking to investigate how the UN responds to crises and changes in the field, and to analyze the basic principles that underpin POs, should begin here. An Agenda for Peace (United Nations 1992) is the starting point; it establishes the UN’s own typologies of activities in operations undertaken by the blue helmets, establishing the categories of peacekeeping, peace-making, peacebuilding, peace enforcement, and preventive diplomacy as subcategories of peace operations. The Report of the Panel on United Nations Peace Operations (United Nations 2000), also known as the Brahimi Report, is closely aligned to the “lessons learned” orientation characteristic of both UN practice and much of the analytical literature of the early 2000s. Its recommendations and judgments are surprisingly direct and illustrate the depth of the problems besetting UN peace operations at the end of the 1990s as they transitioned to a more robust use of force to achieve more ambitious mandates. The Capstone Doctrine (United Nations 2008b) is less critical and sets out to systematize guidelines for the move to complex peacebuilding operations in the late 2000s. The HIPPO Report (United Nations 2015) outlines the results of the renewed convocation of an expert panel, focused on recent challenges such as overloaded mandates, political harmonization, and UN procedures. The Cruz Report (Santos Cruz 2017) focuses on military aspects related to ensuring the safety of UN troops and personnel as missions become involved in more controversial and ambitious tasks.

Institutional/Legal Framework

As presented here, Simma, et al. 2012; Lowe, et al. 2008; and Malone 2004 move from the legal principles laid out in the UN Charter toward their transformation into action in the field. Howard 2008 and Benner, et al. 2011 are examples of the application of theories of organizational learning to the interplay of UN headquarters and specific missions. The analysis in chapters 6 and 7 in Simma, et al. 2012 is ineluctable in defining the legal context in which the Security Council works. Malone 2004 illustrate neatly how these principles join with state political preferences to result in Security Council practice, with Lowe, et al. 2008 going beyond peace operations into the larger area of intervention in general. Howard 2008 and Benner, et al. 2011 are more theoretical accounts of the institutional framework of the UN and the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO), systematizing lessons-learned approaches into theories of institutional learning. Benner, et al. 2011 is particularly rich in empirical detail as well as conceptual findings. Foley 2017 provides an accessible analysis of how international legal principles of protection have found their way into, and been modified in, UN practice.

  • Benner, Thorsten, Stephan Mergenthaler, and Philipp Rotmann. The New World of Peace Operations: Learning to Build Peace? Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011.

    DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199594887.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »

    A rich empirical source on the practice of UN peace operations at headquarters. Traces attempts to implement organizational learning in DPKO; highlights difficulties of interaction between the organization and member states. Key foundational reference for bottom-up organizational studies.

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  • Foley, Conor. UN Peacekeeping Operations and the Protection of Civilians: Saving Succeeding Generations. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2017.

    DOI: 10.1017/9781108236126Save Citation »Export Citation »

    An accessible text that gives an overview of legal principles of protection and their application in UN peace operations. Reviews the legal foundations of the UN’s obligation to protect civilians and weighs this against both humanitarian law and political practice.

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  • Howard, Lise Morjé. UN Peacekeeping in Civil Wars. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2008.

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    Applies theories of organizational learning to POs. Links the success of peace operations to the ability of headquarters to incorporate lessons learned by missions in the field. Several strong mission case studies.

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  • Lowe, Vaughan, Adam Roberts, Jennifer Welsh, and Dominik Zaum, eds. The United Nations Security Council and War: The Evolution of Thought and Practice since 1945. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008.

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    Useful for those focused on the Security Council’s role at the center of the collective security system. Interdisciplinary in nature, the volume contains chapters on the Security Council’s role with respect to a variety of activities associated with peace operations, numerous case studies, and a useful compendium of specific Security Council actions.

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  • Malone, David, ed. The UN Security Council: From the Cold War to the 21st Century. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 2004.

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    Discusses Security Council practice on a wide array of topics. Ranges from issue areas to Security Council procedure to case studies of specific crises. Crucial to understanding the institutional backdrop to mandate creation and Security Council crisis management.

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  • Simma, Bruno, Daniel-Erasmus Khan, Georg Nolte, and Andreas Paulus, eds. The Charter of the United Nations: A Commentary. 3d ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012.

    DOI: 10.1093/law/9780199639779.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »

    The definitive English-language legal commentary on the UN Charter. Serves as a starting point for those wishing to understand the legal framework of peace operations and their formal connection to collective security and conflict resolution.

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Early/Practitioners’ Works

Early publications on peace operations progressed from practitioners’ descriptive accounts to taxonomic efforts and later problem-solving efforts to improve practice based on empirical evidence. Bloomfield 1964 is interesting as a contemporary account of the creation of peace operations out of the broader Cold War conflict resolution context. Military practitioners, in works such as Connaughton 2001, have focused on military mandate implementation, while civilian practitioners, in works such as Goulding 2002, have looked more at institutions and principles. Rikhye, et al. 1974 is firmly inscribed in the problem-solving literature, as a hybrid between military and institutional aspects. Hillen 1998 and Fetherston 1994 are pioneering works of taxonomy and in efforts seeking to link practice to more abstract IR theory. These works also set the tone for the approach based on case study and policy-oriented problem solving that would define peace operations research until the rise of critical work on peacebuilding in the early 2000s.

  • Bloomfield, Lincoln P. International Military Forces: The Question of Peacekeeping in an Armed and Disarming World. Boston: Little, Brown, 1964.

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    Early work on the creation of international military forces for traditional peacekeeping. Includes contributions from Hans Morgenthau, Thomas Schelling, and Dag Hammarskjöld.

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  • Connaughton, Richard. Military Intervention and Peacekeeping: The Reality. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 2001.

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    Detailed descriptive accounts, from a military-political perspective, of missions in Somalia, Rwanda, and Kosovo.

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  • Fetherston, A. B. Towards a Theory of United Nations Peacekeeping. New York: St. Martin’s, 1994.

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    Useful to situate POs as a conflict management practice. Outlines origins of traditional peacekeeping practice and integrates missions into a conceptual framework for third-party intervention.

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  • Goulding, Marrack. Peacemonger. London: John Murray, 2002.

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    Personal memoirs of a formative personality in UN POs.

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

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    An early analytical work, which divides POs into generations. Balances perspective between headquarters and missions, focusing on mandate creation, force composition, and later implementation.

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  • Rikhye, Indar Jit, Michael Harbottle, and Bjørn Egge. The Thin Blue Line: International Peacekeeping and Its Future. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1974.

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    An early survey of UN institutional structures, this volume contains case studies on major early missions and suggestions for peace operations as a conflict resolution practice. Useful as a contemporary view on first-generation Cold War peace operations.

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Assessing the Effectiveness of Peace Operations

As problem-solving and lessons-learned studies progressed in quantity and quality, a subset of literature coalesced that was concerned with bringing more conceptual and methodological rigor to evaluating the effectiveness of peace operations—in terms both of achieving their declared aims and of the appropriateness of those aims themselves. Fortna 2008 is perhaps the most methodologically rigorous, adopting a rational framework to arrive at a causal theory of effectiveness. Meharg 2009 demonstrates how stakeholders are often themselves not aware of how best to establish indicators for success. Diehl and Druckman 2010 has to an extent become the standard work in this vein, as the framework adopted by the authors accommodates a number of explanatory approaches. Aoi, et al. 2007 was a groundbreaking work in its day, as it showed how POs could have fundamentally contradictory and distortive effects on the host society; in this sense, it launched a crucial opening step toward shifting peacebuilding analysis from an institutional focus to the perspective of the local population. Whalan 2013 completes the circle with two strong case studies on local perspectives in Cambodia (a DPKO mission) and the Solomon Islands (not a DPKO mission).

  • Aoi, Chiyuki, Cedric De Coning, and Ramesh Thakur, eds. Unintended Consequences of Peacekeeping Operations. Tokyo: United Nations University Press, 2007.

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    One of the first studies to engage with the gendered effects of peace operations as well as the constraints of the liberal model underpinning UN peacebuilding. Also useful on the economic distortions wrought by POs both locally and for countries that contribute troops.

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  • Diehl, Paul F., and Daniel Druckman. Evaluating Peace Operations. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 2010.

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    Goes beyond descriptive “lessons learned” accounts to set out a methodology for assessing the success and failure of peace operations with respect to their stated aims. Seeks to provide conceptual standards and empirical indicators. Useful as an underpinning for deriving the goals of missions in practice and discourse.

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

    DOI: 10.1515/9781400837731Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Offers a causal theory of how peace operations are effective, based on cost-benefit analysis of incentives and reducing uncertainty. Useful as one of the first analyses based on the perspective of local parties to conflict.

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  • Meharg, Sarah Jane. Measuring What Matters: In Peace Operations & Crisis Management. Montreal: Queen’s University, 2009.

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    Analyzes why stakeholders’ measures of the effectiveness of peace operations do not always result in an accurate view of success and failure. Presents evaluation techniques used by organizations involved in missions.

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  • Whalan, Jeni. How Peace Operations Work: Power, Legitimacy, and Effectiveness. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013.

    DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199672189.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »

    A key work on the importance of local-level analysis in explaining the results of peace operations. Case studies of missions in Cambodia (United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia [UNTAC]) and the Solomon Islands (Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands [RAMSI]).

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Intervention Norms

How the Security Council interprets the relationship between state sovereignty and human rights is crucial to understanding the functioning of peace operations. The debate on this issue has generated a vast literature, of which only too small a sample can be presented here. From their origins in the notion of humanitarian intervention, UN practice and academic analysis have progressed considerably, culminating for the time being in the notion of the “responsibility to protect” (R2P), which has been extensively operationalized across the UN. Welsh 2004, a collection of contributions by leading analysts from a number of areas, is an excellent starting point. Aksu 2003 takes up the thread of the balance between state and individual rights and moves on to focusing on how the UN has applied that balance in civil wars. Wheeler 2000 remains one of the best works on intervention norms to this day; from mandate to mandate, it rigorously applies an English School framework to illustrate how the Security Council’s definition of peace and security has grown to include protection of civilians. Orford 2003 is critical of this development, pointing to continuities with colonial practices. MacFarlane and Khong 2006 discusses how the concept of human security—another prominent attempt to balance individual rights and state rights—has been applied (in the analysis of the authors, too loosely) at the UN. International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty 2001 establishes the concept of R2P; the Implementation Report (United Nations 2009) charts the various changes the concept has undergone in the more than ten years since its launch, and Tardy 2012 makes a crucial contribution to separating the concept from others to which the Security Council turns in crafting mandates for POs. Rhoads 2016 provides a novel view of how changed mandates, particularly as related to protection, have forced the UN to rethink its traditional principle of impartiality.

  • Aksu, Eşref. The United Nations, Intra-state Peacekeeping and Normative Change. Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press, 2003.

    DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719067488.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »

    A study of normative change with UN involvement in civil wars as its focus. Traces the relationship between state rights and individual rights through the UN’s increasing definition of civil wars as security threats worthy of intervention.

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  • International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty. Responsibility to Protect: Report of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty. Ottawa, ON: International Development Research Centre, 2001.

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    Lays out the initial formulation of the responsibility to protect (R2P), a key concept providing the normative underpinnings for UN and other interventions today. Starting point for any study of recent debates on intervention at the UN.

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  • MacFarlane, S. Neil, and Yuen Foong Khong. Human Security and the UN: A Critical History. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2006.

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    Key reference on human security. Traces the development of the concept and its implementation by the UN, focusing on development and humanitarian protection dimensions. Critical of the concept’s overuse.

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  • Orford, Anne. Reading Humanitarian Intervention: Human Rights and the Use of Force in International Law. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2003.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511494277Save Citation »Export Citation »

    A critical (including postcolonial and feminist) view of how justifications for humanitarian intervention have been constructed. Analyzes how international legal texts have been interpreted to portray intervention as a desirable practice.

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  • Rhoads, Emily Paddon. Taking Sides in Peacekeeping: Impartiality and the Future of the United Nations. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016.

    DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198747246.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Taking as a basis norm contestation theory, Rhoads reaches the conclusion that while impartiality retains a fundamental role as a basic principle of UN peace operations, its content has become contested over the past decade. This is due to the increasing inclusion in mission mandates of provisions for the protection of civilians and proactive combat against factions that violate humanitarian law. The book illustrates how, based on rich empirical analysis of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as UN troops have increasingly abandoned traditional notions of impartiality and become effective parties to conflict, practices have been adapted as result.

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  • Tardy, Thierry. “The Dangerous Liaisons of the Responsibility to Protect and the Protection of Civilians in Peacekeeping Operations.” Global Responsibility to Protect 4.4 (2012): 424–448.

    DOI: 10.1163/1875984X-00404003Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Critical of the conflation of R2P and other notions of civilian protection with a firmer basis in international law. Key conceptual guidance on distinguishing types of protection principles in peace operations.

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  • United Nations. Implementing the Responsibility to Protect. A/63/677. 12 January 2009.

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    Establishes the “three pillars” of R2P’s implementation by the UN as well as the “narrow but deep” approach to its applicability in contemporary crises. Key document for understanding the UN’s interpretation and implementation of protection norms.

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  • Welsh, Jennifer, ed. Humanitarian Intervention and International Relations. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004.

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    An interdisciplinary edited volume that treats the balance between humanitarian motivations and state sovereignty before the emergence of R2P as the main lens for this relationship. Contains case studies on Africa and the Balkans, inter alia.

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  • Wheeler, Nicholas. Saving Strangers: Humanitarian Intervention in International Society. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.

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    Important work on the evolution of norms of humanitarian protection. From an English School perspective, traces the evolution of humanitarian emergencies as the basis of Security Council mandates for intervention. Useful as an introduction to norms and for its case studies.

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Use of Force and Peace Enforcement

The use of force in peace operations is one of the most politically controversial and academically productive aspects of peace operations research. Alongside peacebuilding, peace enforcement operations today make up the bulk of UN POs. Osman 2002 is helpful as an introduction to the major questions raised in the debate, followed by Boulden 2001, which serves to give a view of the evolution of the relationship between concepts and practice. Findlay 2002 is an excellent source of case studies on the subject and of the views on the matter at the turn of the millennium. Gray 2008 looks more closely at the legal aspects behind the use of force, while Coleman 2007 addresses the normative issue of why increased force requires increased legitimacy, and why states seek this value through the involvement of subregional organizations.

  • Boulden, Jane. Peace Enforcement: The United Nations Experience in Congo, Somalia and Bosnia. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2001

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    An early work investigating the utility of peace enforcement as a practice; provides detailed case studies (Congo, Somalia, Bosnia) of how Security Council mandates are translated into practice in the field. Feeds into the “lessons learned” approach within the organization.

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  • Coleman, Katharina P. International Organisations and Peace Enforcement. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2007.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511491290Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Grounded in IR theory, investigates the motivations of states for launching peace enforcement missions through (subregional) international organizations, focusing on their role as a source of legitimacy.

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  • Findlay, Trevor. The Use of Force in UN Peace Operations. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.

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    Crucial early work that traces the evolution of the use of force by the UN across a number of detailed case studies.

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  • Gray, Christine. International Law and the Use of Force. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008.

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    A broader study of international legal aspects of the use of force, including within and by the UN. Provides a deeper background to the legal framework of peace enforcement.

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  • Osman, Mohamed Awad. The United Nations and Peace Enforcement: Wars, Terrorism and Democracy. Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2002.

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    Useful for its definition and contextualization of the concept of peace enforcement in theory and practice.

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Peacebuilding

The majority of research in the field of peace operations today focuses on the broad field of peacebuilding; it is here that the deepest connections are found to both IR theory, in general, and critical and postmodern theories more specifically. Several works make explicit the normative origins of UN peacebuilding strategies in the tenets of the liberal paradigm in IR theory. Often credited with a key role in bringing this content to the UN, Michael Doyle has contributed several volumes to this effort, including Doyle 2011. Paris 2004 and Barnett 2006 question whether liberal peacebuilding, as laid out in early missions of the type, is a successful path to peace in the absence of strong state institutions. Indeed, the contributions in Newman, et al. 2009 question whether “liberal” peacebuilding as carried out by the UN puts into practice liberal thought. Doyle and Sambanis 2006 develops the initial link between liberal peacebuilding and the effectiveness literature with a rationalist framework. Finally, Autesserre 2014 brings the anthropological turn to peacebuilding, illustrating how international staff culture can inhibit mission goals.

  • Autesserre, Séverine. Peaceland: Conflict Resolution and the Everyday Politics of International Intervention. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2014.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9781107280366Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Illustrates how the cultural practices of staff in peacebuilding operations can inhibit the overall effectiveness of their work. Brings the anthropological/everyday practices to apply to peace operations research.

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  • Barnett, Michael. “Building a Republican Peace: Stabilizing States after War.” International Security 30.4 (2006): 87–112.

    DOI: 10.1162/isec.2006.30.4.87Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Argues that institution-building is a key corollary to the tenets of liberal peacebuilding.

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  • Doyle, Michael W. Liberal Peace: Selected Essays. New York: Routledge, 2011.

    DOI: 10.4324/9780203804933Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Provides the underpinnings of liberal political philosophy and theory that guide peacebuilding operations today.

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  • Doyle, Michael W., and Nicholas Sambanis. Making War and Building Peace: United Nations Peace Operations. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2006.

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    A positivist framework for assessing the effectiveness of post-conflict building. Enumerates variables affecting the success of missions.

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  • Newman, Edward, Roland Paris, and Oliver P. Richmond, eds. New Perspectives on Liberal Peacebuilding. New York: United Nations University Press, 2009.

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    Central to questioning whether liberal peacebuilding, in fact, implements liberal thought. Key reference in bringing a focus on local agency and perspectives to peacebuilding research.

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  • Paris, Roland. At War’s End: Building Peace after Civil Conflict. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2004.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511790836Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Key reference for laying out the links between modern peacebuilding and its liberal origins. Argues liberalization can backfire without the provision of adequate state institutions.

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  • Paris, Roland, and Timothy D. Sisk, eds. The Dilemmas of Statebuilding: Confronting the Contradictions of Postwar Peace Operations. London: Routledge, 2009.

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    Addresses a wide variety of challenges facing peacebuilding operations. Useful for issue-based, rather than mission-based, case studies.

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Critique of Peacebuilding

The most productive point of intersection between social science theory—including notably postmodern and other critical approaches—and peace operations research has centered on increasingly sophisticated critiques of liberal peacebuilding. Jabri 2013, an inaugural article in the journal Peacebuilding, is a very useful overview of postcolonial and postmodern work on the topic. Possibly the author most closely identified with the subarea is Oliver Richmond, whose key contribution is The Transformation of Peace (Richmond 2007). However, Chandler 2006 lays out the parallels between peacebuilding and colonial practices as early as 2006, and Pugh, et al. 2008 focuses on the failed political economies of peacebuilding at the time. A dominant current of the critique focuses on the importance of taking into account the perspectives of local populations in order for peacebuilding to be legitimate. MacGinty 2010 elaborates a first clear vision of the “hybrid peace,” a commingling of top-down and bottom-up approaches to peacebuilding that has given rise to considerable new research. Chesterman 2004 critiques transitional administrations and provides an excellent grounding for the critique’s application to case studies.

  • Chandler, David. Empire in Denial: The Politics of State-Building. London: Pluto, 2006.

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    Links modern state-building with colonial practices of the past, illustrating how liberal peacebuilders are constructing states in their own image.

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  • Chesterman, Simon. You, the People: The United Nations, Transitional Administration, and State-Building. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004.

    DOI: 10.1093/0199263485.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »

    A critique of UN transitional administrations. Organized around thematic issue areas of UN practice. Useful as a basis for case study research.

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  • Jabri, Vivienne. “Peacebuilding, the Local and the International: A Colonial or a Postcolonial Rationality?” Peacebuilding 1.1 (2013): 3–16.

    DOI: 10.1080/21647259.2013.756253Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Inaugural article of the journal. Excellent as an initial survey of postcolonial critique and peacebuilding and the focus on local-level actors.

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  • MacGinty, Roger. “Hybrid Peace: The Interaction between Top-Down and Bottom-Up Peace.” Security Dialogue 41.4 (2010): 391–412.

    DOI: 10.1177/0967010610374312Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Outlines the “hybrid peace” model that links international institution-building and an emphasis on local agency. Useful as an analytical tool for critical peacebuilding case studies.

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  • Pugh, Michael, Neil Cooper, and Mandy Turner, eds. Whose Peace? Critical Perspectives on the Political Economy of Peacebuilding. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008.

    DOI: 10.1057/9780230228740Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Contributions illustrate that liberal peacebuilding does not always result in political economies that attend to local needs. Contains a number of issue-based case studies.

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  • Richmond, Oliver. The Transformation of Peace. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007.

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    Entry point to the work of Oliver Richmond critiquing the shortcomings of the liberal peace. Lays out the conceptual foundations of a main avenue of critical scholarship.

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Gender

Alongside the critique of peacebuilding’s liberal tenets, gender analysis has made significant inroads into the study of peace operations. The contributions in Olsson and Tryggestad 2001, culled from the pages of International Peacekeeping (cited under Journals), mark the first serious collection situated at this conceptual intersection. The UN first took up a gender perspective in the wake of Resolution 1325, developing in 2004 a Gender Resource Package for Peacekeeping Operations (United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations 2004) for mainstreaming gendered topics into peace operations. Much of the ensuing literature is indirectly a critique of that document, which has—some say indicatively—not been reissued. Carpenter 2006 applies a gender perspective to notions of protection and therefore the very normative motivations to establish peace operations in the wake of these conflicts. Whitworth 2004, in turn, demonstrates how hypermasculine military culture might make soldiers imperfect vectors for putting these motivations into practice, leading once again to unintended consequences. Karim and Beardsley 2017 offers a detailed investigation of changes in gender-related practices and effects within UN peacebuilding efforts over the course of the last decade, adopting a positivist approach. Shepherd 2017 approaches the topic discursively, looking at how UN-led peacebuilding has engaged with women, gender, and civil society.

  • Carpenter, R. Charli. Innocent Women and Children: Gender, Norms and the Protection of Civilians. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 2006.

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    Lays bare the gendered assumptions underlying how populations in need of protection through intervention are constituted. A key reference within gender studies on the normative motivations for the establishment of peace operations.

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  • Karim, Sabrina, and Kyle Beardsley. Equal Opportunity Peacekeeping: Women, Peace and Security in Post-Conflict States. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017.

    DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190602420.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »

    A rich empirical work that traces gendered effects through both peace operations’ policy and the effect on female peacekeepers and local women. Addresses policy initiatives related to gender, as well as gender-differentiate impacts of POs and sexual abuse by peacekeepers. Contains an extensive case study on Liberia. A rare combination of positivist and feminist approaches.

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  • Olsson, Louise, and Torunn Tryggestad, eds. Women and International Peacekeeping. London: Frank Cass, 2001.

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    An important early collection of essays originally published in International Peacekeeping (cited under Journals) constituting the beginnings of gendered analysis of peace operations.

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  • Shepherd, Laura J. Gender, UN Peacebuilding and the Politics of Space: Locating Legitimacy. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017.

    DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199982721.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Analyzes a decade of UN peacebuilding efforts from a discursive standpoint, focusing on changes in the construction of gender and space. Serves as an excellent overview of peacebuilding in general, but particularly of the advances and shortcoming of the UN’s attempts to address women, gender, and civil society in its peacebuilding efforts.

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  • United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations. Peacekeeping Best Practices Unit: Gender Resource Package for Peacekeeping Operations. New York: UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations, 2004.

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    Official UN document outlining how to mainstream a gender perspective in peace operations. Now somewhat dated after a decade without revision.

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  • Whitworth, Sandra. Men, Militarism and UN Peacekeeping: A Gendered Analysis. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 2004.

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    Critical work highlighting a perceived contradiction between hypermasculine elements of military training and gender-sensitive and other tasks performed by troops involved in peace operations. One of the first openly critical pieces of research on unintended consequences and limitations on the effectiveness of peace operations.

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Mission Case Studies

The literature on peace operations is distinguished by the frequency with which it applies case studies. Its first origins in descriptive accounts and problem-solving literature are still evident today in the reliance on empirical studies. In this sense, several of the works listed under other headings also contain significant cast studies, although their major contribution is here adjudged to be elsewhere. The works cited here, however, stand out either for the depth of their case studies or for their concentration of findings around a specific regional or thematic focus. James 1990 provides a large number of short cases of conflict resolution, which serve to provide continuity between peace operations and previous conflict resolution efforts. Doyle, et al. 1997 looks at a second-generation mission in El Salvador and Cambodia. Berdal and Economides 2007 is a stock-taking of the contributions of peace operations to conflict resolution in the 1990s. Durch 2006 provides a number of longer analyses of the complex peace enforcement and peacebuilding missions of the late 1990s and early 2000s. Dallaire 2003 provides a front-row seat to the dilemmas faced by the UNAMIR force commander. Autesserre 2010 is the most detailed and sophisticated analysis of peacebuilding in the Congo to date.

  • Autesserre, Séverine. The Trouble with the Congo: Local Violence and the Failure of International Peacebuilding. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2010.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511761034Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Extensively researched study illustrating that an overall solution to a complex political situation like that in the Democratic Republic of the Congo cannot be solved without attention to resolving conflicts at the local and regional levels.

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  • Berdal, Mats, and Spyros Economides, eds. United Nations Interventionism, 1991–2004. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2007.

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    Edited volume with in-depth case studies of the major UN POs of the 1990s, viewed as instances of international conflict resolution.

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  • Dallaire, Roméo. Shake Hands with the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda. New York: Carroll & Graf, 2003

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    Personal account of UNAMIR’s failure to prevent the Rwandan genocide, by the mission’s force commander. Useful as an inside view to mission dysfunctions prior to the Brahimi Report (see United Nations 2000, cited under United Nations Documents) and lessons-learned approaches.

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  • Doyle, Michael W., Ian Johnstone, and Robert C. Orr. Keeping the Peace: Multidimensional Operations in Cambodia and El Salvador. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1997.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511558986Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Contemporary study of early multidimensional missions considered to be successful: Cambodia and El Salvador.

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  • Durch, William J., ed. Twenty-First-Century Peace Operations. Washington, DC: United States Institute for Peace, Stimson Center, 2006.

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    Comprehensive, lengthy case studies on Bosnia, Sierra Leone, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kosovo, Timor, and Afghanistan. A rich source of empirical information.

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  • James, Alan. Peacekeeping in International Politics. New York: St. Martin’s, 1990.

    DOI: 10.1007/978-1-349-21026-8Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Important early work providing about fifty short case studies of episodes of conflict resolution, beyond the scope of UN POs.

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National Contributions to Peace Operations

Analysts have turned to the motivations of states to contribute to peace operations both as a means of synthesis with elements of IR theory and as a result of the research on the topic accompanying the spread of contributions to growing corners of the globe. One recurring frame of reference here has been the West’s withdrawal from UN POs—preferring to engage instead through NATO or unilaterally—and the attendant rise in contributions from the Global South. Bellamy and Williams 2009 and Cunliffe 2014—a highly critical view—are key treatments of this phenomenon. Written by a prolific duo, Bellamy and Williams 2013 establishes a coherent framework for analyzing the motivations of states to participate in POs, including fifteen major case studies with a view to enhancing the UN’s procurement of personnel. Kenkel 2013 is an example of a locally sourced study focusing on the increasing role of South American states in POs; Sotomayor 2014 is significant as it reverses the direction of analysis, investigating the effects of participation on democratization processes in sending countries.

  • Bellamy, Alex, and Paul Williams. “The West and Contemporary Peace Operations.” Journal of Peace Research 46.1 (2009): 39–57.

    DOI: 10.1177/0022343308098403Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Analyzes the increasing propensity of Western countries to engage in peace operations outside the UN ambit.

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  • Bellamy, Alex, and Paul Williams, eds. Providing Peacekeepers: The Politics, Challenges and Future of United Nations Peacekeeping Contributions. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013.

    DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199672820.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Constructs a sophisticated analytical framework for understanding the motivations of states to contribute to POs, spanning cultural and institutional variables. Fifteen case studies from the Security Council’s permanent five members (P-5), major donors, and emerging powers.

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  • Cunliffe, Philip. Legions of Peace: UN Peacekeepers from the Global South. London: Hurst, 2014.

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    Argues that troop contributions from the Global South should be seen as a continuation of imperialist practices of the past.

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  • Kenkel, Kai Michael, ed. South America and Peace Operations: Coming of Age. London: Routledge, 2013.

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    Edited volume by authors from the regions combines several conceptual chapters on security and intervention in South America with case studies of the continent’s largest contributors to peace operations.

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  • Sotomayor, Arturo C. The Myth of the Democratic Peacekeeper: Civil-Military Relations and the United Nations. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2014.

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    Challenges the notion that participation in peace operations contributes to democratizing military establishments in the developing world.

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Theorizing Peace Operations

The progression of the literature of peace operations from descriptive problem-solving to more theoretical sophistication, particularly from the field of international relations, is based largely on the works cited here, together with works cited in other sections, such as Autesserre 2014 (cited under Peacebuilding), Coleman 2007 (cited under Use of Force and Peace Enforcement), Fortna 2008 (cited under Assessing the Effectiveness of Peace Operations), and Richmond 2007 (cited under Critique of Peacebuilding). Bellamy 2004, Paris 2000, and Paris 2003 are works that mark early steps toward the application of social science, particularly IR, theory. The Review of International Studies special issue (Macmillan 2013) definitively grants space to critical theories in the field, a process begun, inter alia, by Pugh 2004.

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