Does Peacekeeping Work?

Concerning what has been going on in the world lately, it has become ever more important to have discussions about the nature, purpose and mechanisms through which international peacekeeping missions are undertaken. Virginia Page Fortuna’s work titled “Does Peacekeeping Work” is one genuine attempt to foster such a discussion that I believe to be beneficial, but a little naïve.

What this piece does an excellent job of is addressing three major shortcomings associated with the contemporary literature on peacekeeping missions which the author defines as: a lack of empirical data on the outcome of peacekeeping missions, a lack of solid understanding concerning how the specific mechanisms of peacekeeping contribute to the overall peacekeeping efforts, and an ignorance possessed by the peacekeepers concerning the perspective and role of the peacekept (Page Fortuna, 3). She writes that most debates regarding peacekeeping devolve into “casual arguments” resulting in “very little rigorous testing of an effectiveness of peacekeeping (Fortuna, 2).

In hopes of rectifying this lack of empirical data, the author launches an empirically motivated study of “does peacekeeping work? And if so, how? (Fortuna 3). By operationalizing crucial definitions and launching a study of range of cases, I think her conclusion that peacekeeping has a clear, positive impact on the persistence of peace can be accepted as true (Fortuna, 175). Statistically speaking therefore, peacekeeping does work.

While I appreciate this aspect of the study, I think the author’s explanation for why the international community chooses to involve itself into some conflicts and not others is lacking. The author focuses her study on the chance of success versus that of failure; making chance of success the independent variable and international involvement the dependent variable. And while her conclusion that “Peacekeepers tend to go to the most difficult cases” is interesting, this observation does little to explain a nation’s motivation for getting involved (Fortuna, 16). Rather, it serves as little more than an observation.

I believe the author touches on the issue briefly when speaking of how the United States’ public has seemingly become more and more against peacekeeping. She remarks that, “Even in Afghanistan and Iraq, where vital interests are not at stake, the United States has been reluctant to countenance widespread multilateral peacekeeping missions” (Fortuna, 1). I believe this statement illuminates the author’s naiveté concerning two vital aspects of peacekeeping in general. For starters, she recognizes here that vital interests seem to play a part but then excludes their influence from her analysis. Instead of focuses on the chance of success, it might have been more beneficial to study the how persistent exploitable resources or other identifiable motivations were. This might provide a much more causal relationship between independent and dependent variables.

Furthermore, I believe that the author ignores how the United States Public might not be so upset with peacekeeping as a principle and more upset with the way in which the government has undertaken peacekeeping missions. With Iraq in particular, much of the public’s resentment stems from the fact that we feel the government lied to the public about weapons of mass destruction. From my understanding at least, far less people have a problem with the War in Afghanistan than the War in Iraq and I believe this to do with the public perception of why we entered these wars in the first place. Studying ulterior motives other than peacekeeping, in my opinion, would have lead to much more practical insight into this difficult issue. Overall however, I think this work is extremely beneficial.



Fortna, Virginia Page. Does Peacekeeping Work?: Shaping Belligerents’ Choices after Civil War. Princeton: Princeton UP, 2008. Print.


Does Peacekeeping Work? Why or Why Not?

The act of peacekeeping throughout the international realm is a successful procedure implemented to nations “wracked by civil war” (Fortna, 2008, 1). As Fortna explains, groups such as the “United Nations, regional organizations, and sometimes ad hoc groups of states have sent peacekeepers to high-profile trouble-spots such as Rwanda and Bosnia and to lesser-known conflicts in places like Central African Republic, Namibia, and Papua New Guinea” (Fortna 2008, 1). These peacekeepers have excelled in ensuring that the chance of war reoccurring is much lower as a result of their work and presence than it would have been with the inhabitants attempting to deal with the issue themselves. Through the use of military forces and resources such as food and water, “a country is much less likely to fall back into civil war (Chenoweth, 2014, Np) with armed peacekeepers and medical staff providing aid, assistance, and reorganization. The overall goal of peacekeeping is to ensure that peace is kept in the nation after the peacekeepers have left. As Fortna suggests, when examining peacekeeping from this suggested angle of peace being kept, it can be seen statistically that peacekeeping is much more effective than perceived.


Statistically, it can be seen that peace keeping is a successful method in the majority of cases where violence and civil war has left countries in shambles. However, studies, the media, and the general public, tend to only focus on cases in which peacekeeping failed and countries underwent recidivism of violence, which is why peacekeeping is seen as ineffective, pointless, and a waste of money. In reality, studies show that peacekeepers actions alone while in the specific violent countries reduce the “risk of another war by 55%-60%” (Fortna 2008, 173). In addition, in cases where the peacekeepers are deployed and then leave after an extended period of time, “recidivism falls by at least 75%-85%” (Fortna 2008, 173). Furthermore, through interviews with rebels and governments, “the belligerents themselves view peacekeeping as an important tool that has helped them maintain peace” (Fortna 2008, 173).


Lastly, the method of peacekeeping, aside from preventing war from reoccurring, helps to “alleviate fear and mistrust, to some degree, merely by existing” (Fortna 2008, 177). The peacekeepers work in establishing communications between the two opposing parties of the nation, so that they can communicate their true intentions to one another without the use of violence. By doing so, the peacekeepers are “preventing either side from shutting the other out of a political process in a way that makes the political loser chose war” (Fortna 2008, 179). In addition, peacekeepers can essentially take over the entire administration or government of a country temporarily, in order to “prevent either side from dominating the political process during the most dangerous phase of the transition to peace” (Fortna 2008, 178). As a result, the peacekeepers are creating incentives for the opposing parties to follow while also establishing structure, security, communication, and peace. Finally, peacekeeping helps in identifying and eliminating hard-liners who pose a threat to peace, as well as control territory where violence could occur. Thus, I agree with Fortna’s argument that peacekeeping is effective and can continue to be of assistance to countries in need. Peacekeeping, specifically the work on the UN, is “aimed to maintain peace and prevent relapse into conflicts that caused so much suffering in the world” (Powers 2015, Np), and despite the publicity of its failures, statistics show that is has truly succeeded “in some of the worlds most dangerous places” (Ladsous 2015).


Works Cited:

Fortna, Virginia Page. Does Peacekeeping Work?: Shaping Belligerents’ Choices                after Civil War. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2008

Chenoweth, Erica. “Peacekeeping Works Better Than You May Think.” Political Violence at a Glance.  August 12th, 2014.  Accessed December 6th, 2015.     

Ladsous, Herves. “United Nations Peacekeeping.” The New York Times. September 18th, 2015. Accessed December 6th, 2015.

Powers, Samantha. “Effective Peacekeeping in the 21st Century.” Sri Lanka Guardian.  November 21st, 2015. Accessed December 6th, 2015.  

Does Peacekeeping Work?

Fortna defines peacekeeping as the “deployment of international personnel to help maintain peace and security in the aftermath of war” (Page Fortna 2008, 5). Fortna rephrases the question of whether peacekeeping works to “does peacekeeping improve the chances that peace will last?” (Page Fortna 2008, 5). She ultimately argues a probabilistic conclusion, rather than deterministic, to the question. The conclusion explains that while peacekeeping does not ensure sustained peace, it does significantly improve the chances of the maintenance of peace.

Mozambique, one of Fortna’s case studies, showcases how peace keeping ‘worked’. The civil war in Mozambique lasted for 15 years starting in the late 1970s. In this aftermath of this conflict UN Peacekeepers utilized both observational and multidimensional operations. The ONUMOZ was established by the security council with four major components: humanitarian, military, political, and electoral. From this initiative a supervisory and monitoring commission was established, as well as a humanitarian program, and elections were conducted. The country has remained relatively peaceful and has held multiple democratic elections. The country actively works towards moving away from its violent past. In a recent news article in the Washington Post, Mozambique was shown to be completely land mine free. One HALO trust worker, a land mine clearance agency, stated that the country has the confidence to “really move forward and flourish, and move on from the civil war and war for independence” (Raghavan 2015).

From the example of Mozambique, it is evident that peacekeeping has the potential to improve chances of peace lasting, but this is not necessarily always the case. An important component to the success of peacekeeping is whether or not it is consent-based within the home country, as well as the different factions’ choice to maintain peace. This is a factor that peacekeepers do not have full control over, and could greatly influence the end result of the durability of sustained peace.


Works Cited

  1. Page Fortna, Virginia. “Peacekeeping and the Peacekept.” Does Peacekeeping Work?
  2. Raghavan, Sudarsan. “Mozambique Was Once Riddled with Tens of Thousands of Land Mines. Now, It Has None.” Washington Post. September 17, 2015
  3. “Mozambique- ONUMOZ Background.” United Nations News Center.

Does Peacekeeping Work? Why or Why Not?

Peacekeeping is well intentioned but performed poorly. Virginia Page Fortna argues in “Does Peacekeeping Work?” that peacekeeping overall is successful. She asserts that while peacekeeping does not guarantee peace, it “will significantly improve the chances that peace will hold” (Fortna 2008, 8). Unfortunately, this is not the case today. Fortna defines peacekeeping as a “multilateral activity” (Fortna 2008, 5) that promotes peace between conflicting groups when in reality, the United Nations forces have began breaking neutrality in war torn nations such as the Congo (Raghavan 2013) and has “failed to prevent fresh spasms of violence” (Raghavan 2014) in South Sudan and the Central African Republic. Peacekeeping, while good in theory, has failed to consistently promote peace and agreement between the conflicting groups.

As previously stated Fortna claims peacekeeping is a multilateral activity that “ensures impartiality” (Fortna 2008, 5) of the peacekeepers. However, in the Congo, the United Nations forces have “orders to react offensively to enforce peace, essentially transforming peacekeepers into combatants. And it is openly supporting Congolese government forces, a move away from the principle of neutrality that has guided other U.N. missions” (Raghavan 2013). The lack of dialogue with the rebel militias has made the United Nations similar to an ally in war rather than an arbitrator to conflict. The actions by the United Nations “risks deepening conflicts” (Raghavan 2013) and causes the militias to view them as “non-neutral potential targets” (Raghavan 2013).

In other African nations, it can be seen that peacekeeping does not increase the chances that conflicts will be settled and peace with hold. Interviews with citizens of Darfur have found that the “U.N. peacekeepers have not been able to stop the violence in Darfur” (Raghavan 2014) and has promoted violence in new areas such as South Sudan, where the “situation is now similar to Darfur” (Raghavan 2014). As senior U.N. official Tony Lanzer has stated: “what [peacekeepers] cannot do is stabilize a situation in a whole country that is erupting into violence” (Raghavan 2014). Placing troops on the ground in many situations has only caused rebel groups and militias to target the U.N. as well as their previous enemies. The U.N. in many cases has only caused tensions to increase between the groups involved and fail to increase the chances these nations will find peace.

Peacekeeping is not working and needs to be restructured if the U.N. desires to become more successful. Clearly the U.N. is not acting on neutrality and causing deeper divides among the groups fighting. Peacekeeping is an action that developed nations should support, but it requires adjustment if we hope to be successful in promoting peace across the globe.

Works Cited:

Fortna, Virginia Page. Does Peacekeeping Work?: Shaping Belligerents’ Choices                after Civil War. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2008.

Raghavan, Sudarsan. “In Volatile Congo, a New U.N. Force with Teeth. The               Washington Post, November 3, 2013. Accessed December 6, 2015.                          a-new-un-force-with-teeth/2013/11/01/0cda650c-423f-11e3-b028-              de922d7a3f47_story.html.

Raghavan, Sudarsan. “Record Number of U.N. Peacekeepers Fails to Stop                 African Wars.” The Washington Post, January 4, 2014. Accessed                           December 6, 2015.               number-of-un-peacekeepers-fails-to-stop-african                                           wars/2014/01/03/17ed0574-7487-11e3-9389-09ef9944065e_                             story.html



Does peacekeeping work ? Why or why not ?

Markese Wright


In my opinion, peacekeeping does not work. Peacekeepers, in many cases, just use peacekeeping as a “legitimate” justification for going into these countries, so that they can exploit resources – such as oil. In other instances, peacekeepers may really aim to create peace, but fail to actually end the chaos that takes place. And in other cases, peacekeepers do not aim to end chaos at all. For example, the U.N. documented confessions about its ineffectiveness. According to these confessions, “U.N. peacekeepers in Rwanda stood by as Hutu slaughtered some 800,000 Tutsi. In Bosnia, the U.N. declared safe areas for Muslims but did nothing to secure them, letting the Serbs slaughter thousands in Srebrenica”(Boot). This is not peacekeeping. And if it is, it is extremely ineffective at creating and maintaining peace.

Is War Gendered?

When I think of war, I instinctively imagine the Marine commercials that play on the television featuring seemingly badass young American male soldiers jumping out of camo helicopters and wading in swamps at night in tactical gear.  I think of men being drafted and fighting while women stay home.  But this image is painfully inaccurate, as it overlooks the very real and often forgotten victims of war: women.   Pamela DeLargy’s “Sexual Violence and Women’s Health in War” provides insight to the historically untold facts of being a woman during wartime, unsettlingly connecting to an article I read Saturday about three Syrian women who fled to Turkey after abandoning their positions in ISIS.  Both DeLargy’s chapter on the treatment of women during and after conflicts as well as Azadeh Moaveni’s “ISIS Women and Enforcers in Syria Recount Collaboration, Anguish and Escape” illustrate how war is and has been gendered throughout time.

DeLargy’s and Moaveni’s articles differ in key ways, as DeLargy’s focuses on the way sexual violence is used as a tactic of war while Moaveni’s delves into the lives of women who are considered to be the property of the Islamic State’s soldiers.  Both papers, however, exemplify the notion that the war-time experiences of men and women are inherently different.  One of the women interviewed by Moaveni, named Dua, recounted the lack of control she had over her body despite being a member of the female moral brigade in ISIS.  After marrying an ISIS soldier, her new husband insisted she take birth control because, “his commanders had advised fighters to avoid getting their wives pregnant. New fathers would be less inclined to volunteer to carry out suicide missions” (Moaveni).  The enforcement of birth control on women by an organization lessens the basic right of reproduction and exemplifies how differently women experience war than men.

A women’s role changes during war, made clear by the beginning of DeLargy’s assertions that lack of reproductive care, basic security, menstruation supplies, as well as sexual exploitation all create an inherently gendered occurrence.  This is seen in the three “ISIS Women” featured in the New York Times article.  Each of them initially married a soldier to keep their families safe, an evidently female role of war in which a woman gives up her right to choose a partner for the sake of her family.  One of the young women, Dua, recalled the day after her first husband died when she realized “the Organization had made her a widow and wanted to do so again and again, turning her into a perpetual temporary distraction for suicidal fighters. There was no choice left, no dignity, just the service demanded by the Islamic State’s need to feed men to its front lines.”  Because of Dua’s gender, she was handed from husband to husband, unable to live alone and unable to create a family.

It is not the men who are drafted or volunteer to fight in violence who face the greatest risk during war.  As DeLargy finishes her paper, “in almost every part of the world, women are at a greater risk than men for both biological and social reasons, which remains true in wars as well” (13).  War is gendered and it is the women who shoulder the brunt of it.

Azadeh Moaveni, “ISIS Women and Enforcers in Syria Recount Collaboration, Anguish and Escape,” New York Times, November 21, 2015.

Delargy, Pamela. “Sexual Violence and Women’s Health in War.” Women and Wars. Cambridge, UK: Polity, 2013. Print.

Is War Gendered?

In order to come to a conclusion on whether or not war is gendered, it is first very important to define the term “gendered”. American Heritage Dictionary defines this term as “having or making gender-based distinctions”. The question then becomes, does war have gender-based distinctions? In light of DeLargy’s essay on sexual violence and women’s health during war, I would answer yes. In her argument it is clear that, in the case of sexual assault and its repercussions on the victim’s health during war, both men and women tend to have very different experiences due to their sex and gender.

DeLargy notes many different reasons behind rape during war, but two really stick out as possible reasons behind why women are raped by men, simply because of their gender and sex: humiliation and ethnic cleansing. While men and young boys are also raped during war, it is the war strategies of humiliation and ethnic cleansing that are uniquely used on women simply because of their gender and sex.

First, the strategy of humiliation is used by men to humiliate other men. In a patriarchal society, DeLargy explains, a man’s gendered role is to protect his woman and children. By raping a man’s wife, the perpetrator is humiliating the husband by stripping away his power and masculinity. A man raping a woman’s husband would not have this same effect, as socially her gender designates her to being “owned” by her husband. Therefore, because of her society’s view on her gender role, only she can be used as a tool to humiliate her husband by being the victim of sexual violence.

Second, the strategy of physically carrying out “ethnic cleansing” only relates to women, as the other sex is not capable of giving birth. DeLargy sites the example of sexual violence during the Balkans War, where Serbs kept Bosnian women in “rape camps”, forcing them to give birth and therefore “diluting bloodlines and destroying Bosnian ethnic identity”. DeLargy explains that this act achieved both humiliation and ethnic destruction. This aspect of war solely relates to women, as men biologically would not be able to give birth and thus would not add to the destruction of his ethnic identity.

The strategy of humiliation relies on a woman’s gender, as it is the social construct that allows for humiliation of the husband. Ethnic cleansing relies on both a woman’s gender and sex, as the strategy both humiliates the husband due to social structures and relies on the woman’s physical biology (or, sex) to be carried out. Both of these strategies rely on both the man and woman’s gender roles to be effective during war, therefore indicating that war is gendered.



  • DeLargy, Pamela. 2013. “Sexual Violence and Women’s Health in War.” Chapter in Women and Wars: Contested Histories, Uncertain Futures. Polity.

Is War Gendered?

Although war affects all citizens, regardless of gender or age, it is inherently gendered and particularly harsh for women. I completely stand by Pamela Delargy’s assertion that conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV), particularly against women, is difficult to attribute to one cause, as it is largely dependent on the specific conflict involved. Treatment of and prevention for potential victims of CSRV also proves challenging, not only because the foundations of CRSV can be so muddled, but also because of cultural restraints and the risk of doing more harm than good to those affected.

A variety of reasons for the level and prevalence of sexual violence toward women exist. Some argue that rape is simply in the biological nature of the male, and that aggression toward females is only repressed because of societal taboos (Delargy). Relatedly, the patriarchal societies in which many victims live perpetuate a culture of women as property, or as lesser beings than men. Both of the aforementioned justifications fail to completely explain why CRSV is used as a war strategy however. Soldiers may rape the enemies’ women for multiple reasons related to strategic conflict, some of which are to demoralize the community, dilute the bloodlines, and ensure that the enemy leaves the territory and does not return. (Delargy).

While obviously all efforts to help survivors of CRSV are well intentioned, many have consequences in the affected communities. Punishment of rapists can lead to retaliation, or make it more likely for them to kill their victims to avoid punishment (Delargy). In some societies, it is unfavorable for a woman to even admit to having been raped for fear of disownment by her family. This makes it hard for victims to seek necessary medical and psychological help. Delargy points to support from the community as a usually positive mitigation for survivors, something that the UN Security Council is trying to increase in Syria (UN News Centre). Sexual violence has been used as a war tactic for the past five years in Syria, and efforts to help female victims heal and reintegrate into societies have been set to increase in light of a recent meeting of the Council.

Delargy, Pamela. “Sexual Violence and Women’s Health in War.” Women and Wars. Cambridge, UK: Polity, 2013. Print.

“‘Status Quo Simply Cannot Continue in Syria’ – UN Humanitarian Chief.” UN News Centre. UN, 16 Nov. 2015. Web.

Is War Gendered?

War is inherently gendered, as it constructs hegemonic gender ideals and has varying consequences for persons of different genders. DeLargy outlines a series of theories regarding the use of sexual violence in war. Through these, we can see how war is gendered, even beyond the use of sexual violence.

First, gender is socially constructed, and so new masculinities and femininities are developed during conflict. DeLargy writes about Militarization theory, which holds that war constructs militarized hyper-masculinities that, in essence, exaggerate traditional norms of masculinity. In this way, “wounding and killing is considered not only acceptable, but also sometimes admirable” (DeLargy 61). Violence is a key trope of manliness in these circumstances, as is male dominance over females. Working in tandem to this is the construction of militarized femininities; also an exaggeration of traditional femininity, these hold that women are weak, vulnerable, and in direct contradiction to manliness. In that it constructs and comments upon gender norms at all makes war inherently gendered.

Beyond this construction, DeLargy points out the many different consequences there are for women and men in wartime. In part because of hyper-masculinities, sexual violence is used by men as a strategy in war. This disproportionately affects women in healthcare consequences, causing STIs, HIV, unwanted pregnancies, fistulas, and various psychological disorders (DeLargy 65-67). Furthermore, the “level of stigma attached to rape inhibits its survivors from telling anyone that the rape occurred” and so they are not seeking or retrieving treatment for these problems (DeLargy 68).

Stigmatization is a ruthless outcome of sexual violence in many conflict zones, especially in Uganda. The victims of these crimes are not only ostracized from their communities, but re-victimized. According to an article by the news source, AllAfrica, “stigma and hardship have passed from mother to child, and sometimes even to grandchildren, in an intergenerational cycle of denial of rights and dignity, vulnerability, abuse, and marginalization” in Uganda (AllAfrica 2). This establishes long-term gendered consequences of gendered violence. Thus, through the construction of gender and the disproportionate affects of violence on women, war is gendered.


DeLargy, Pamela. “Sexual Violence and Women’s Health in War.” Women and Wars. Ed. Carol Cohn. Cambridge, UK: Polity, 2013. 54-79. Print.

“Uganda: Mothers and Children Born From Wartime Sexual Violence Need Redress.” N.p., 29 Oct. 2015. Web. 21 Nov. 2015.