The Supply Side of United Nations Peacekeeping Operations: Trade Ties and United Nations-led Deployments to Civil War States

  • Created : 01.10.2017 01:21
  • Last Updated:01.10.2017 01:32
  • Report

In some civil wars we observe deployment of UN peacekeeping forces, while they are not deployed to some other civil wars. This article argues that trade ties between the civil war state and the permanent UN members are an important factor in predicting deployment of UN peacekeeping operation (PKO). They find empirical support to their assumption. 
 
With the termination of violence, a more stable and flourishing economic enviroment arises. This new environment is an opportunity for wealthy states to initiate new trade relations. Since the 5 permanent members of the United Nations Securit Council (P5) has the political power to decide where PKO is deployed, these countries are likely to approve deployment of PKO missions to countries that engage in significant economic exchange with the P5. Once a civil war breaks out, as research shows, international trade volume of with the civil war state declines significantly. As a result, some countries lose trade with civil war states or new trade ties can be established in return of political support given by approving PKOs. Wealthy states prefer involvement in PKOs for several reasons. First, acting through UN PKO legitimizes the state behavior so that leaders can defend their actions in domestic politics. Second, operating through UN PKO reduces the risk of unexpected outcomes. By involving in the PKO, governments satisfy the demands of interests groups that demand action, while sharing the cost of any possible failure or unexpected outcome. Third, by intervening through PKOs, states share the financial cost of intervention with other states. Otherwise, the cost of a unilateral intervention will be so high that a sing state cannot take on the role on its own.  
 
The authors use data generated by Virginia Page Fortna (2008, Does Peacekeeping Work? PUP), covering global incidence of civil war ceasfires between 1950 and 2000. Since the appointment of UN Special Representative is a purely political action, they confine the data set to intense UN missions. Their data set includes 126 cases of ceasefires of which 79 occured in the post-Cold War period. Data for the main independent variable is taken from Barbieri et al. (2008). They aggreage trade flow values between the civil war state and each P5 country  in the year before the ceasefire. They also measure trade loss by substracting the value P5-civil war state trade in the year prior to the ceasefire from the P5-civil war state trade value in the year prior to the civil war onset. 
 
The results show statistically significant support for the argument across all the models. Therefore, the greater the civil war state’s trade ties with the P5 countries, the more likely that that country will receive PKO. 
 
It is important, however, to note that the authors do not ignore the effect of humanitarianism. They agree that countries do not solely approve PKOs for material (i.e. trade) purposes. Trade ties constitute only one factor in decision making process.