The Peacekeeping-Peacemaking Dilemma
Once tension between parties turn into an armed conflict, the international community expects formation of a peacekeeping force so that peace can be realized. This article empirically tests this assumption. Authors look at interstate and intrastate wars and whether peacekeeping missions were successful in peacemaking.
Due to hostility level among belligerents, fighting parties are unlikely to solve the problem own their own without external intervention. We tend to expect that a peacekeeping force will eliminate the trust problem and create a conducive environment whereby the conflict can be mediated or negotiation can be initiated. There are two competing views about the impact of peacekeeping operations on realizing and maintaining peace: optimist and pessimist views.
The optimist view mainly argues that violence is bad therefore any factor that reduces violence is good. First, a cooling off period will reduce the level of hostility between parties and build some trust among the belligerents. Second, high intensity of conflict causes pressure on political decision makers, and make negotiations look like a concession. Third, as long as the violence prevails, leaders will focus on winning battles and achieving victory, not making peace.
The pessimist view, on the other hand, basically argues that peacekeeping operations interfere in a conflict and do not allow the conflict to run its natural course. Therefore, peacekeeping will make conflict resolution efforts less likely to succeed. Fighting between parties releases information about capability and resolve of the other side. Thus, parties can make more accurate calculations about whether to sustain fighting or search for an agreement to end the war. Then, peacekeeping interrupts this information flow and leaves fighting parties with less and inaccurate information. According to pessimist view, `disputants must agree that each can do better by participating in mediation than by relying upon a unilateral effort to impose a settlement upon one another`. Peacekeeping reduces the likelihood that disputants make more healthy decision and keeps uncertainty high. As a result, `peacekeeping reduces the likelihood of negotiation between the disputants for the same reason it reduces the likelihood of success, because it limits information available to the disputants. This reduction would decrease the willingness of either side to initiate negotiations for fear that this would signal weakness to the opposing side`. Peacekeeping operations sometimes help stop fighting and initiate a cease-fire agreement. For pessimist, this is an interruption of flow of information and therefore impacts conflict’s normal conclusion. Pessimists also believe that peacekeeping missions prevent emergence of hurting stalemate between parties. That peacekeeping operation will stop or limit fighting reduces the cost of fighting to the parties and therefore delays any possible hurting stalemate. Because peacekeeping missions usually do not have a deadline, parties do not feel the need to settle the dispute and use the cease-fire to build up stronger army.
In their tests, the authors examine both interstate and intrastate conflicts. Examination of conflicts covers cases from 1946 to 1996. For intrastate conflicts, the authors use data set created by Regan (2002). This data set sets at least 200 deaths as the threshold. Their independent variable is the occurrence of a mediation or negotiation attempt. For this variable, data is taken from Bercovitch’s (1999) International Conflict Management (ICM) data set. In this study, the authors focus on the immediate outcome of the conflict management efforts. In order for a mediation and negotiation attempt that follow peacekeeping to be considered as successful, the attempt is expected to go beyond cease-fire and should stimulate a partial or full settlement between the disputants. They do not consider a cease-fire as a success of peacekeeping.
Their tests support the pessimist view of peacekeeping that peacekeeping operations do not help peacemaking. The findings show that `factors such as high levels of previous dispute severity, frequently stalemated disputes, or a long rivalry duration that engenders intense hostility between disputants, all dampen the occurrence of both mediation and negotiation`. Thus, the authors find that the most conflictual events drive the disputants toward mediation and negotiation. Peacekeeping reduces the possibility of mediation and negotiation by reducing the cost. With regard to the civil wars, the coefficient for peacekeeping is positive with respect to mediation and negative with respect to negotiation. But neither is statistically significant.
In conclusion, the article shows that peacekeeping does not help settlement of the conflict. On the contrary reduces the possibility of mediation and negotiation.