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Making Peace or Preventing It? UN Peacekeeping, Terrorism, and Civil War Negotiations

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JournalInternational Studies Quarterly
DateAccepted/In press - 20 Oct 2020
DateE-pub ahead of print (current) - 13 Nov 2020
Number of pages14
Early online date13/11/20
Original languageEnglish


Previous studies have highlighted that United Nations peacekeeping operations are effective at reducing violence during civil wars. But can these operations also change the incentives of the warring parties and lead them to pursue non-violent alternatives? This article provides the first direct test of UN peacekeeping troops’ effectiveness at inducing non-violent engagements, specifically negotiations during civil wars. Our analysis of disaggregated monthly data on peace operations, negotiations, and violence in African conflicts (1989-2009) reveals that sizable deployments of UN military troops, by themselves, are insufficient to foster negotiations, even when they reduce battlefield violence. Instead, the probability of negotiation instances is conditional on rebel tactics. We posit, when rebels engage in terrorism, peacekeeping troops can inadvertently alter the “power to hurt” of the belligerents in favor of rebel groups and create conditions conducive to negotiations. Our results have important implications for research on the effectiveness of both peacekeeping and terrorism and for policy-making.

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