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From peacekeepers to praetorians – how participating in peacekeeping operations may subvert democracy

Cunliffe, Philip (2018) From peacekeepers to praetorians – how participating in peacekeeping operations may subvert democracy. International Relations, 32 (2). pp. 218-239. ISSN 0047-1178. E-ISSN 1741-2862. (doi:10.1177/0047117817740728) (KAR id:63683)


This article provides a heuristic study of three cases where participation in peacekeeping operations prompted military rule in the peacekeeper-contributing state. These three atypical cases contradict the theory of diversionary peace, which claims that contributing to peacekeeping operations abroad should stimulate democracy at home. The experience of these three countries also calls into question the conventional wisdom that strongly associates peacekeeping with liberal democratic institutions, outcomes and practices. Via triangulation across literature, reports, elite interviews and WikiLeaks cables, these cases are examined in order to identify more generalisable observations regarding how participation in peacekeeping may enhance the role of the military at the expense of democratic order and civilian rule in the contributing state. The theory of diversionary peace is shown to suffer from serious conceptual flaws. Some preliminary efforts are made to generalise the findings, with Ghana and Uruguay identified as warranting further investigation. A number of variables are identified as offering scope for generalisation, namely, revenue, leadership and military size. Several promising areas for further research are also identified: how military dependence on peacekeeping may make political systems more permeable to outside influence, how far the United Nations (UN) can politically influence its contributor states and how peacebuilding may affect peacekeepers’ understanding of their role in their own countries. By examining the feedback effects of peacekeeping on peacekeeper-contributing states, the article reverses the conventional focus of peacekeeping scholarship and contributes to the growing literature examining the wider ramifications and unintended consequences of liberal conflict management.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1177/0047117817740728
Uncontrolled keywords: Bangladesh, coup, Fiji, Gambia, military, peacekeeping
Subjects: J Political Science > JZ International relations
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Politics and International Relations
Depositing User: Philip Cunliffe
Date Deposited: 29 Sep 2017 15:38 UTC
Last Modified: 09 Dec 2022 00:12 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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