Peacekeeping operations are integral to multilateral strategies to help establish stable, self-sustaining peace and development in countries coming out of civil war. While we know, from macro-level empirical studies, that these operations contribute to the durability of peace, the evidence on their effectiveness at the micro level remains scant. Using surveys and administrative data from postwar Liberia, we test the hypothesis that peacekeeping deployments build peace ‘from the bottom up’ through contributions to local security and local economic and social vitality. The hypothesis reflects official thinking about how peacekeeping works via ‘peacebuilding’. We create a quasi-experiment by applying coarsened exact matching to administrative data used in mission planning, identifying sets of communities that were similarly likely to receive bases. We do not find effects on local security measured in terms of physical victimization, fear of victimization, or migration patterns. We find only modest effects on socio-economic vitality. NGOs tend to work in areas where deployments are not present, contrary to the hypothesis. Thus, we are less inclined to believe that peacekeepers build peace from the bottom up, leaving macro-level mechanisms such as signaling and deterrence at the level of leaders as worthy of more attention. In terms of policy, peacekeeping missions should re-evaluate their methods for providing local security.
- civil war
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science
- Safety Research
- Political Science and International Relations