How UN Peacebuilding Unintentionally Incentivizes Local-Level Violence

36 Pages Posted: 7 May 2018 Last revised: 19 May 2018

Date Written: March 16, 2018


This paper challenges theoretical and empirical arguments about peacebuilding effectiveness that put the state at the center of United Nations peace operations. The paper draws on evidence from the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) from 2013 to 2017. I argue that state-centric UN peacebuilding operations inadvertently incentivize local-level violence in post-conflict zones. I demonstrate that when the UN supports central governments it unintentionally empowers non-professionalized militaries, paramilitaries, and warlords to settle local scores. Armed violence against civilians in turn triggers a vicious cycle of reprisals and counter-reprisals. As an alternative to state-centric peacebuilding operations that incentivize local violence, I suggest that the UN should shift strategic resources away from central governments and toward UN policing, support of traditional and religious authorities, and the training of local security institutions.

Keywords: UN peacekeeping, peacekeeping, peacebuilding, statebuilding, Mali, Peulh, Tuareg, ethnic conflict

Suggested Citation

Nomikos, William, How UN Peacebuilding Unintentionally Incentivizes Local-Level Violence (March 16, 2018). Available at SSRN: or

William Nomikos (Contact Author)

Yale University ( email )

No Address Available

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