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.