UN Peace Operations and the Protection of Civilians
26 Pages Posted: 7 Oct 2013
Date Written: August 15, 2013
The United Nations Security Council frequently authorizes military interventions with a mandate to protect civilians, but there is an unresolved debate in the qualitative literature about whether those operations actually protect people. Quantitative cross-national analysis might be able to resolve this debate but it has been impeded by highly aggregated, macro-level datasets that cannot reveal the considerable variation in violence over time and across geography. Two new event-datasets (ACLED and GED) disaggregate individual events with the objective of providing and empirical foundation for advances in quantitative studies of conflict dynamics, including civilian protection efforts. Comparison of the two datasets, however, demonstrates that they do not reliably reflect the actual pattern of events. The datasets suffer from an inherent problem with events-data: they contain patterns of reporting instead of patterns of events. Critique of a recent article that uses the GED dataset demonstrates the questionable findings that can result. The paper calls (once again) for more engagement between qualitative and quantitative scholars as a way to more quickly and accurately answer basic questions, such as do UN peace operations really protect people?
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