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UN Peacekeeping in Civil Wars


  • 2 tables
  • Page extent: 418 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.61 kg
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 (ISBN-13: 9780521707671)

Manufactured on demand: supplied direct from the printer

$49.99 (P)

Civil wars pose some of the most difficult problems in the world today and the United Nations is the organization generally called upon to bring and sustain peace. Lise Morjé Howard studies the sources of success and failure in UN peacekeeping. Her in-depth 2007 analysis of some of the most complex UN peacekeeping missions debunks the conventional wisdom that they habitually fail, showing that the UN record actually includes a number of important, though understudied, success stories. Using systematic comparative analysis, Howard argues that UN peacekeeping succeeds when field missions establish significant autonomy from UN headquarters, allowing civilian and military staff to adjust to the post-civil war environment. In contrast, failure frequently results from operational directives originating in UN headquarters, often devised in relation to higher-level political disputes with little relevance to the civil war in question. Howard recommends future reforms be oriented toward devolving decision-making power to the field missions.


1. Introduction; 2. The failures: Somalia, Rwanda, Angola, Bosnia; 3. Namibia: the first major success; 4. El Salvador: centrally-propelled learning; 5. Cambodia: organizational dysfunction, partial learning and mixed success; 6. Mozambique: learning to create consent; 7. Eastern Slavonia: institution-building and the limited use of force; 8. East Timor: the UN as state; 9. The ongoing multidimensional operations; 10. Conclusion: two levels of organizational learning.

Prize Winner

Winner, 2010 Friends of ACUNS Award, Academic Council on the UN System


"Dr Howard’s well researched book is important reading for all those who want to know how peacekeeping operations should be run and how they could be further improved."
Martti Ahtisaari, Winner 2008 Nobel Peace Prize
Former President of Finland (1994–2000), and United Nations Special Envoy for the future status process for Kosovo

"This is a terrific book: ambitious, important, theoretically sophisticated, meticulously researched and beautifully written. Examining ten cases of UN peacekeeping in civil wars, Howard identifies both the necessary and the sufficient conditions for success in these efforts. This book will have a long shelf-life."
George W. Breslauer, University of California at Berkeley

"What makes for successful multidimensional peacekeeping missions? Howard argues that organizational learning in the UN mission itself is an overlooked but crucial variable. She examines other determinants of success as well, including domestic conditions within the war-torn country, and the alignment of interests within the Security Council. Drawing on carefully constructed case studies, she provides rigorous analysis of all of these factors, but it is the emphasis on the ways in which a peacekeeping mission adapts and learns (or fails to do so) that makes for a truly original and important contribution to our understanding of this timely topic. This book should be required reading for both students and practitioners of peacekeeping."
Page Fortna, Columbia University

"A superb systematic examination of how different types of organizational learning contributed to several peacekeeping successes...and how organizational dysfunction and the absence of sustained learning can hamper UN peacekeeping operations. This is not just another book on the difficulties of post-Cold War UN peacekeeping in complex conflicts and is a must-read for practitioners and scholars alike."
Margaret P. Karns, University of Dayton

"Because civil war persists in today’s troubled world, Lise Howard’s dissection of why and how UN peacekeeping missions have succeeded or failed in strengthening local and world peace is essential reading for practitioners and scholars. Her insights should inform the mandates given to future peacekeeping missions, and their composition."
Robert Rotberg, Harvard University

"In this impressive work of scholarship, Lise Morjé Howard subjects UN peacekeeping in civil wars to critical and rigorous scrutiny, concluding that accounts of their failures have been much exaggerated...The cases are studied methodically using a common structure. The literature coverage is extensive, even while this book marks a self-conscious departure in the sophistication of its conceptual and theoretical analysis...The writing is crisp, clear and succinct."
Perspectives on Politics, Ramesh Thakur, Balsillie School of International Affairs- Waterloo, Canada

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