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.


9 thoughts on “Does peacekeeping work ? Why or why not ?

  1. I agree with this notion that peacekeepers do not always work. They tend to do what works for them at the time, but that could mean not keeping the peace, as the post stated. I am wondering if sometimes they are payed off by the government or corrupt in any way? So they are sent to another country to participate in “peacekeeping” but they follow their own agenda. It would be something interesting to research.

  2. I agree. Peacekeepers tell themselves that they are doing the right thing and that they are doing enough. But the sad truth of the matter is just the opposite. In some cases even, peacekeepers cause more harm than good. In the case of the Rwanda Genocide, peacekeepers turned on the people they were supposed to protect and even raped the women. Also, the peacekeepers in the Rwanda Genocide only further damaged the relationship between the people of Rwanda and the local/foreign governments. There was a lack of trust from the Rwandan people and it got even worse as a result of the peacekeepers.

  3. Firstly, I’d like to address the importance of this question to policymaking and how crucial this topic is. The results are hugely important to the future of helping post-conflict societies.

    Marquis, while I feel similarly disgusted by the failures of peacekeeping, I disagree with your argument that peacekeeping does not work and thus agree with Fortna’s conclusion that peacekeeping significantly improves the chances of enduring peace. Fortna concludes her peace stating, “peacekeeping intervenes in the most difficult cases, dramatically increases the chances that peace will last, and does so by altering the incentives of the peacekept, by alleviating their fear and mistrust of each other by preventing and controlling accidents and misbehavior by hard line factions, and by encouraging political inclusion” (Fortna, 13). Peacekeeping may not always work, evidenced by the atrocities committed in Rwanda and Bosnia, yet I agree with research of old and new that proves it increases the possibility having lasting peace. This does not mean that every mission will work- but rather that the averages clearly indicate it is, in fact, impactful (Doyle and Sambanis, 2000). I remain optimistic that multilateral endeavors can positively influence peace.

    Doyle, Michael W., and Nicholas Sambanis. 2000. “International Peacebuilding: A Theoretical and Quantitative Analysis”. The American Political Science Review 94 (4). American Political Science Association: 779–801. doi:10.2307/2586208.

    Fortna, Virginia Page. Does Peacekeeping Work?: Shaping Belligerents’ Choices after Civil War. Princeton: Princeton UP, 2008. Print. (here’s a cool youtube vid I found on the value of peacekeeping)

  4. I disagree that peacekeeping does not work. I believe that peacekeeping is a great method that ensures stability and makes it so peace can be kept and order can be restored in nations who suffer from immense amount of violence or war. While peacekeeping organizations, such as the UN, may not be perfect, they do a tremendous job of ensuring that violence and or war does not resurface in the country. If you look at this argument statistically, it can be seen that in the majority of cases, the actions of peacekeepers decreases recidivism and increases peace. While the previous comments have made some strong points, I believe that overall peacekeeping is looked down upon simply because it is so easy to point out an organizations failures, but hard to acknowledge or give credit to its success.

  5. I agree that peacekeeping has been unsuccessful in certain regions, but I do not feel that peacekeeping is a direct exploitation of other states. It is important to acknowledge that states, in which peacekeeping operations take place, can be exploited, but this is not the case for the majority of peacekeeping operations. I think you may be combining elements of what could be called “peacemaking” in your analysis of peacekeeping operations. Peacemaking operations are more prone to exploitation, as these operations take place in regions of current conflict and turbulence. Peacekeeping operations take place in states that are not in current conflict, which allows for more effective and efficient regulation aimed at preventing exploitation. Changes should be made in order to make peacekeeping operations more effective, but eliminating peacekeeping operations all together is not a viable option.
    -(Written by Tom Kelly, Friend of Mike Caron)

  6. I fundamentally disagree with your assertion that peacekeeping does not work. I think Fortna does a good job of demonstrating that in fact peacekeeping has an overall positive effect on post conflict zones. Her sophisticated examination of peacekeeping demonstrates that though it does not always work, peacekeepers do have a positive effect on the chances of peace. Referring specifically to your comments on Rwanda, this was an obvious blemish on the record of international peacekeeping. It is widely accepted that the way U.N. peacekeeping was ineffective in this case. I would recommend you check out the Frontline documentary “Ghosts of Rwanda” by PBS for a fairly in depth examination of peacekeeping in Rwanda. Fortna’s data determines quite clearly that peacekeeping can work and often does in some capacity. Another thing to keep in mind is that peacekeeping generally refers to (and is referred to by Fortna) as a post conflict strategy. There were UN peacekeepers in Rwanda whose goal was to maintain peace following the civil war. They were entirely unprepared to deal with the exceedingly sudden outburst of violence after the assassination of Juvénal Habyarimana. The small number of peacekeeping troops in Rwanda (around 2,500) was not nearly enough to deal with the kind of violence which occurred. In addition, there is no way in which the troops in this situation could have been better prepared to deal with this conflict. It was very sudden, unpredictable, and violent, and I don’t even think it is a reasonable expectation that peacekeeping troops could deal with such an extreme event. Thus I could not disagree more that peacekeeping does not work, the example you raise is an unreasonable one in which to expect success.


  7. While peacekeeping may have many shortcomings, I strongly disagree with your argument that it does not work. I am a relative of a person involved in peacekeeping who spent 7 years in Liberia, and is now in another African mission. The situation in Liberia dramatically improved with time, so much so that the the mission, UNMIL, started to downsize. And with it’s reduced presence, there was worry that chaos would follow – evidence for the efficacy of the UN presence.

    “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.”
    Maybe countries whose soldiers might be involved in the peacekeeping activity in a particular mission may have such intentions, or perhaps, particular peacekeepers in a given mission. When you have to go to work by police escort to avoid being attacked, some of your colleagues are kidnapped in exchange for a ransom or you have go to bed in a place where you hear gunshots at night and gates have to be guarded by soldiers, I think the last thing on the average peacekeeper’s mind is exploiting oil. Again, this is not to say that individuals do not have poor intentions while serving on missions; I have heard my fair share of stories.

    Surely, you know that there are many facets to peacekeeping. Sometimes a component of peacekeeping doesn’t explicitly relate to the larger job at hand, but it facilitates the more delicate work that others do in order to keep the peace.

    Even if peacekeeping works 65% of the time, it still works. The UN should examine why the missions in Bosnia and Rwanda failed, and make improvements to avoid such human loss in the future.

    (Written by Jacqueline Jackson, sister of Jasmine Jackson).

  8. I would also agree that while the idea of peacekeeping sounds like a good strategy to stop or prevent domestic conflict or even international conflict. However, I do not think that peacekeeping does actually work as we have seen several cases where this strategy has not helped, and in some cases even made conflict worst. Often times it seems as if public opinion has moved away from peacekeeping as we can see within the US. While the idea of peacekeeping seems logical to help other countries in times of conflict, I think that the current way we enforce or conduct peacekeeping missions should be rethought.

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