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Taking matters into their own hands: An analysis of the determinants of state-conducted peacekeeping in civil wars


  • Nicolas Rost

    (Department of Politics and Management, University of Konstanz & United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs for Somalia (OCHA))

  • J Michael Greig

    (Department of Political Science, University of North Texas,


Why and when do states take the burden upon themselves to send peacekeepers into a civil war, rather than relying on intergovernmental organizations to do so? While there are a few empirical studies on the conditions under which the UN sends peacekeeping missions, no such analyses of state-conducted peacekeeping exist. In this study, a theoretical framework on state-conducted peacekeeping in civil wars is developed and empirically tested. Not surprisingly, when acting outside international organizations, states are able to take their own interests directly into account and select those civil wars to which they send peacekeepers accordingly. States’ interests play a much greater role here than, for example, the interests of the major powers do for UN peacekeeping. When states send peacekeepers they are more likely to choose former colonies, military allies, trade partners, or countries with which they have ethnic ties. Yet, this does not mean that state-conducted peacekeeping occurs only where states see their own interests. Contrary to conventional wisdom, states also provide peacekeeping to ‘tough’ cases, the most challenging civil wars. These are long, ethnic wars. This tendency for states to provide peacekeeping holds when civil wars produce dire effects on civilians. States are more likely to send peacekeepers into civil wars that kill or displace many people. Finally, states react to opportunities: the more previous mediation attempts, the higher the chances for state-conducted peacekeeping.

Suggested Citation

  • Nicolas Rost & J Michael Greig, 2011. "Taking matters into their own hands: An analysis of the determinants of state-conducted peacekeeping in civil wars," Journal of Peace Research, Peace Research Institute Oslo, vol. 48(2), pages 171-184, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:joupea:v:48:y:2011:i:2:p:171-184

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    References listed on IDEAS

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