The Promise of Peacekeeping: Protecting Civilians in Civil Wars
34 Pages Posted: 2 Feb 2017
Date Written: February 1, 2017
Do peacekeepers protect civilians in civil conflict? Securing civilian safety is a key objective of contemporary peacekeeping missions, yet whether these efforts actually make a difference on the ground is widely debated. This paper argues that because peacekeeping forces often need to maintain close ties with host governments, peacekeepers reduce civilian fatalities inflicted by rebels, but not those caused by governments. To test our claim, we overcome common problems of endogeneity and selection bias by using a novel natural experiment. Specifically, we leverage exogenous variation in which countries hold power in the United Nations Security Council to show that states that wield more power send more peacekeepers to their preferred locations, and that these peacekeepers in turn help to protect civilians from rebel factions. Using new data on the location of each conflict event, we also provide support for the mechanisms at work.
Keywords: civil war, conflict, instrumental variable, international institutions, United Nations, peacekeeping, natural experiment
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation