Skip to main content

Cognitive Peacekeeping Decision-Making in South Sudan 2013 to 2017

Millar, Mark (2021) Cognitive Peacekeeping Decision-Making in South Sudan 2013 to 2017. Master of Arts by Research (MARes) thesis, University of Kent,. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.88819) (Access to this publication is currently restricted. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:88819)

Language: English

Restricted to Repository staff only until 1 May 2024.

Contact us about this Publication
[thumbnail of 213MMillar_Cognitive_Peacekeeping_Decision_Making_FINAL_May21.pdf]
Official URL


This thesis is an attempt to account for suboptimal decision-making within the United Nations' peacekeeping mission in South Sudan (UNMISS). A review of current theoretical approaches to analyse action by international organisations suggests that an adequate theory to situate individual decision-makers within organizational contexts, such as the UN, does not yet exist. I apply a unique analytical framework that borrows from organization, decision, and cognition theories to examine peacekeeping decision-making in the context of UNMISS between 2013 and 2017. The focus of the research is on the office of the Special Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG) in South Sudan and uses first-hand accounts from senior UN officials and observers in the country during that time. I track the decision processes around six critical events in which UNMISS actions fell significantly below their expected performance. Where those actions cannot be explained by rational actor choices, I hypothesise that bias associated with a preference for a bounded rationality that reflect individual and organizational priorities is a better way to explain suboptimal choices. In the conclusions I offer practical conclusions as to how certain organizational changes could contribute to better UN peacekeeping decision-making. This includes flatter organisational structures with more open decision-making process that account for views that are diverse, and challenge organizationally formed opinions. It also emphasises the need to encourage individual responsibility to disregard organizational imperatives when the impact of those decisions has an is harm or death on civilians.

Item Type: Thesis (Master of Arts by Research (MARes))
Thesis advisor: Ansorg, Nadine
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.88819
Uncontrolled keywords: South Sudan, Peacekeeping, United Nations, Cognition, Bounded Rationality, Decision-Making, Bias,
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Politics and International Relations
SWORD Depositor: System Moodle
Depositing User: System Moodle
Date Deposited: 23 Jun 2021 15:10 UTC
Last Modified: 30 Jun 2021 10:00 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
  • Depositors only (login required):