UN Peacekeeping Operations: Conflicting Interests and Effectiveness
Private interests influence the decisions of troop-providers to deploy troops to UN peacekeeping missions. The pursuit of private benefits affects how peacekeeping missions’ mandates are fulfilled. While some troop-providers align with the UN’s ideals and directives, others act in favor of their private benefits. Yet, we only know about peacekeeper-level issues such as coordination problems and lack of capability that hinder peacekeeping effectiveness. Troop-providers’ primary motivations behind committing peacekeepers, on the other hand, are largely neglected. This dissertation offers to fill this gap by attempting to examine the relationship between troop-providers’ primary motivations and ‘success’ in peacekeeping operations. While doing that, the dissertation project provides ample evidence that peacekeeping failure largely stems from peacekeepers’ reluctance to take orders from the UN, not from their incompetency. Drawing on the conflict-of-interest theory, I posit that divergent interests within peacekeeping operations reduce the ideational commitment of troop-providers to the UN, therefore, are instrumental on how peacekeeping operations work. The two empirical chapters and a case study contribute to the understanding of whether troop-providers’ ideational commitment to the UN has an impact on success in UN missions, while assessing the success either at different levels or from different perspectives. As the financial burden and human loss increase with lengthy peacekeeping missions, the first empirical chapter focuses on the duration of UN missions and evaluates the length of missions as an indicator of success in peacekeeping operations. The results of the duration analysis over all terminated and ongoing peacekeeping operations from April 1991 to December 2019 show that divergent interests within peacekeeping operations increase the time required to terminate UN missions. Undoubtedly, the protection of civilians is the most important mandate assigned to UN peacekeepers. When stationed in a conflict zone, the primary expectation from peacekeepers is to protect civilians from falling victim to warring parties’ aggressions. The second empirical chapter, therefore, assesses peacekeeping effectiveness from peacekeepers’ ability in combatting the violence against civilians. This chapter explores the effect of troop-providers’ ideational commitment to the UN on reducing civilian victimization by the combatants in all terminated and ongoing peacekeeping operations from November 1990 to December 2019. The results show that an increase in troopproviders’ ideational commitment to the UN reduces civilian victimization. Finally, the last chapter conducts a case study in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to examine the relationship between the ideational commitment to the UN and civilian victimization near the UN camps at subnational level. The findings demonstrate that the contingents that have higher levels of ideational commitment to the UN combat and deter the violence against civilians more effectively. In addition, the chapter shows that local sentiments in the DRC on UN peacekeepers is not constant and can change in time, suggesting that UN peacekeepers can lose their impartial image among local groups when they do not carry out the UN’s orders and fail to do their job. This dissertation project contributes to the peacekeeping literature bringing a new perspective on evaluating the composition of UN peacekeeping missions. While the earlier literature focuses on the peacekeepers’ individual performance, this project shows that the national interests of their home governments should not be underestimated. The empirical evidence in this project supports the theoretical expectations that troop-providers’ tendency to follow their national interests clashes with the UN’s impartiality and neutrality, and therefore hinders the effectiveness of peacekeeping missions. Another contribution of this project is the novel measurement of troop-providers’ ideational commitment to the UN that it developes both at the national and sub-national levels. The ideational commitment to the UN is developed using the voting preferences of troop-providers in the UN General Assembly for human rights issues and their deployment size for a specific mission, which enables me to determine the extent to which missions are composed of countries that seek to provide public goods.