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Beyond Keeping Peace: United Nations Effectiveness in the Midst of Fighting


While United Nations peacekeeping missions were created to keep peace and perform post-conflict activities, since the end of the Cold War peacekeepers are more often deployed to active conflicts. Yet, we know little about their ability to manage ongoing violence. This article provides the first broad empirical examination of UN peacekeeping effectiveness in reducing battlefield violence in civil wars. We analyze how the number of UN peacekeeping personnel deployed influences the amount of battlefield deaths in all civil wars in Africa from 1992 to 2011. The analyses show that increasing numbers of armed military troops are associated with reduced battlefield deaths, while police and observers are not. Considering that the UN is often criticized for ineffectiveness, these results have important implications: if appropriately composed, UN peacekeeping missions reduce violent conflict.

Corresponding author
Lisa Hultman is Associate Professor of Peace and Conflict Research, Uppsala University (, Department of Peace and Conflict Research, Uppsala University Box 514, 751 20 Uppsala, Sweden.
Jacob Kathman is Associate Professor of Political Science, University at Buffalo, SUNY (, Department of Political Science. 508 Park Hall, North Campus, University of Buffalo, SUNY Buffalo, NY 14260.
Megan Shannon is Assistant Professor of Political Science, University of Colorado ( Campus Box 333, Boulder, CO 80309.
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American Political Science Review
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