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2014 winner photo Anjali Dayal
PhD Candidate, Department of Government, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Georgetown University
War, Repetition, Reputation: Peacekeeping and Links between Civil Wars

My dissertation asks how the UN’s peacekeeping failures since 1989 affect civil war peace processes globally. Do peacekeepers’ previous records of success or failure affect the dynamics of conflict in other civil wars? What, if anything, do combatants learn by observing the United Nations’ conduct in other civil wars? Why do combatants in civil wars engage in UN led negotiations even when they believe the UN is a failed, flawed contributor to the peace process? I draw on statistical analysis, interviews, archival work, and case studies of peace processes in Rwanda, the DRC, and Guatemala to examine the evolving global tools of conflict management and their effects across contemporary wars we often examine separately.

My research reveals that combatants may place little faith in peacekeepers’ ability to guarantee war-ending agreements, but that their interests in the UN’s refugee resettlement, statebuilding, and post-conflict reconstruction services outweigh these concerns. In other words, keeping the peace may be ultimately less important to some participants in a peace process than securing goods and services that only the international community can contribute to the post-conflict context. The dissertation offers a novel account of internationally-lead peace processes as part of a loosely imperial model in which UN peacekeepers bind contemporary civil wars into a constellation of shared information and similar pressures and incentives. This is vital research given the UN’s increased role in civil wars since the end of the Cold War, and given the increased size, scale, and scope of peace operations since the mid-2000s.