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

In the last fifteen years, the number, size, and scope of peacekeeping missions deployed in the aftermath of civil wars have increased exponentially. From Croatia and Cambodia, to Nicaragua and Namibia, international personnel have been sent to maintain peace around the world. But does peacekeeping work? And if so, how? In Does Peacekeeping Work? Virginia Page Fortna answers these questions through the systematic analysis of civil wars that have taken place since the end of the Cold War. She compares peacekeeping and nonpeacekeeping cases, and she investigates where peacekeepers go, showing that their missions are crucial to the most severe internal conflicts in countries and regions where peace is otherwise likely to falter.

Fortna demonstrates that peacekeeping is an extremely effective policy tool, dramatically reducing the risk that war will resume. Moreover, she explains that relatively small and militarily weak consent-based peacekeeping operations are often just as effective as larger, more robust enforcement missions. Fortna examines the causal mechanisms of peacekeeping, paying particular attention to the perspective of the peacekept--the belligerents themselves--on whose decisions the stability of peace depends. Based on interviews with government and rebel leaders in Sierra Leone, Mozambique, and the Chittagong Hill Tracts in Bangladesh, Does Peacekeeping Work? demonstrates specific ways in which peacekeepers alter incentives, alleviate fear and mistrust, prevent accidental escalation to war, and shape political procedures to stabilize peace.     

Replication Data

Peacekeeping and the Peacekept:
Data on Peacekeeping in Civil Wars 1989-2004

Data Notes (pdf)

Data (stata)

Endorsements and Reviews

"Virginia Page Fortna has written a compelling and courageous book--compelling in the reinforcing comparisons that it makes between aggregate data and case-based research, and courageous in its first-person interviews, conducted with those who perpetrated as well as ended civil wars. The book bridges the worlds of the high-flying 'quant' who sees only forests of data, and the ground-based case researcher knee-deep in political leaf litter. Drawing particular strength from the oft-ignored perspective of those on whose behalf peacekeepers do their work, Fortna's convergent analyses advance our understanding not only of how peacekeeping works but why."--William J. Durch, Henry L. Stimson Center

"Does Peacekeeping Work? is well crafted, tightly argued, intelligent, and thorough. Fortna makes her case for peacekeeping as a successful tool very well. Germane to the important issues, this book will be widely cited and widely employed."--Robert I. Rotberg, Harvard University

"In this well-researched and solidly argued book, Fortna examines the casual relationship between peacekeeping and durable peace in a number of different settings. . . . Using quantitative analysis and qualitative case analysis of conflicts of Bangladesh, Mozambique, and Sierra Leone, the author provides detailed information on international peacekeeping."--N. Entessar, Choice

"This is an excellent book which addresses an interesting, important, and understudied issue. . . . Does Peacekeeping Work? is a very important study and a model of social science research that makes a major contribution and that should be read, and assigned, widely. Peacekeeping is an important topic with academic and policy relevance, and scholars interested in working in this area should start with Fortna's book."--David E. Cunningham, Review of International Organizations

Cover Image

The cover depicts of member of the RUF, the main rebel group in Sierra Leone, speaking at a center for DDR in 2001, as the peace process got under way. It is cropped a bit too closely, but behind him are UN peackeepers.  I chose the image because it puts the peacekept – one of the rebel soldiers – front and center.  In my field research, I relied heavily on the views of the participants in the conflicts to learn how peacekeeping worked on the ground, and wanted an image that reflected that.