Recent Publications

  • Hultman, Lisa, Jacob D. Kathman, and Megan Shannon. 2016. "United Nations Peacekeeping Dynamics and the Duration of Post-Civil Conflict Peace." Conflict Management and Peace Science 33(3):231-249.  
    How do the qualities of United Nations peacekeeping operations (PKOs) influence the duration of peace after civil wars? Recent work shows that UN peacekeeping extends the duration of peace. However, this work has only been able to assess whether the presence or absence of UN missions affects post-conflict peace processes. Such analyses offer little in the way of policy prescriptions for planning and structuring PKOs to effectively pursue their goals. By employing fine-grained data on the personnel composition of PKOs, and generating expectations from rationalist bargaining models of civil war, we argue that the number and type of personnel deployed to a PKO influence the UN’s ability guarantee peace by addressing the information and commitment problems that so often lead to the collapse of post-conflict peace. We analyze how the composition of missions influences the duration of peace, finding that, as the number of UN military troops deployed increases, the chance of civil war recurring decreases. However, other personnel types do not have the same effect. We conclude that the effectiveness of post-conflict peacekeeping lies in the ability of PKOs to alleviate commitment problems through the deployment of military troops that are able to defend the peace.
  • Hultman, Lisa, Jacob Kathman, and Megan Shannon. 2014. "Beyond Keeping Peace: United Nations Effectiveness in the Midst of Fighting.American Political Science Review 108(4):737-753A blog post about this paper can be found at the Early Warning Project. Our work was also mentioned in a summary in Global Policy of research on UN effectiveness in civil wars.
    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 paper 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.    
  • Hultman, Lisa, Jacob Kathman, and Megan Shannon. 2013. "United Nations Peacekeeping and Civilian Protection in Civil War." American Journal of Political Science 57(4):875-891. See the Monkey Cage post about the article. A blog post about the article is posted on the AJPS website, at the E-International Relations site, or at The Early Warning Project. Bloomberg Businessweek also made mention of the article. Data and replication file available from AJPS Dataverse
    Does United Nations peacekeeping protect civilians in civil war? Civilian protection is a primary purpose of UN peacekeeping, yet there is little systematic evidence for whether peacekeeping prevents civilian deaths. We propose that UN peacekeeping can protect civilians if missions are adequately composed of military troops and police in large numbers. Using unique monthly data on the number and type of UN personnel contributed to peacekeeping operations, along with monthly data on civilian deaths from 1991 to 2008 in armed conflicts in Africa, we find that as the UN commits more military and police forces to a peacekeeping mission, fewer civilians are targeted with violence. The effect is substantial—the analyses show that, on average, deploying several thousand troops and several hundred police dramatically reduces civilian killings. We conclude that although the UN is often criticized for its failures, UN peacekeeping is an effective mechanism of civilian protection.
  • Shannon, Megan, Clayton Thyne, Amanda Dugan, and Sarah Hayden. 2015. "The International Community's Reaction to Coups."  Foreign Policy Analysis 11(4):363-376. Noted on The Monkey Cage
    With ten attempts since 2010, coups d’état are surprisingly common events with vital implications for a state’s political development. Aside from being disruptive internally, coups influence interstate relationships. Though coups have important consequences, we know little about how the international community responds to these upheavals. This paper explores what drives global actors to react to coups. Our theory differentiates between normative concerns (e.g., protection of democracy) and material interests (e.g., protection of oil exports) as potential determinants of international responses to coups. We argue that coups against democracies, coups after the Cold War, and coups in states heavily integrated into the international community are all more likely to elicit global reaction. Using newly collected data, we explore the number of signals that states and IOs send to coup states from 1950 to 2011. The analyses reveal that coups against democracies and wealthy states draw more attention. States react when democracies are challenged by coups, while IOs react to coups in Africa and coups during the post-Cold War period.  We surprisingly find that heavy traders and oil-rich states do not necessarily receive more reaction, suggesting that international actors are more driven by normative concerns than material interests when reacting to coups.