Evaluating Peace Operations

  • Published

Evaluating Peace Operations by Paul F. Diehl and Daniel Druckman. Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2010, 200 pp.

Authors Diehl and Druckman have written an authoritative and practical guide to evaluating peace operations. Covering such a wide topic in a single volume is challenging, but they have comprehensively addressed the essential elements of peace operations, from the initial role of troops in stopping the conflict to longer-term goals of democratization, rule of law, and reconciliation.

The authors note in the introduction that “specifying what constitutes peace operations success is a prerequisite for theoretical development” (p. 3) and note the pitfalls when that evaluation is governed by an arbitrary timeline: “it is more often the demands for quick appraisals and bureaucratic accountability that lead decisionmakers to look at some success standards while ignoring others” (p. 5). Thus, one must have in mind a good definition of an end state for a peace operation to guide that operation and its subsequent evaluation. Strategic patience dictates that adequate time be given to conduct a thorough evaluation.

Chapters 3–5, “Core Peacekeeping Goals,” “Beyond Traditional Peacekeeping,” and “Postconflict Peacebuilding,” each conclude with a summary table of the peacekeeping goals/objectives, key questions, measures of progress, and benefits and limitations. The core peacekeeping goals are (1) violence abatement, (2) conflict containment, (3) conflict settlement, and (4) operational effectiveness. Nontraditional peacekeeping goals include (1) election supervision, (2) democratization, (3) humanitarian assistance, (4) disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration, and (5) human rights protection. Postconflict peacebuilding includes (1) local security, (2) rule of law, (3) local governance, and (4) restoration, reconciliation, and transformation. The tables summarize the discussion in each chapter and are organized such that they could easily be used as a template for a peace operation evaluation exercise.

Each objective covered in the tables is linked to one or more “key questions,” the answer to which provides the necessary content for the evaluation. For example, a key question when evaluating the core goal of violence abatement would be “Is violence still present?” (p. 32). The key questions are followed by measures of progress and then by benefits and limitations of each measure of progress. For the present example, violence abatement could be measured by “days/months without war (peace duration)” or by the emergence of “new crises, militarized disputes, or wars” as a direct consequence of the present conflict. “Peace duration” has the benefit that it is comparable across missions. Its limitation is that “major failures provide feedback too late” to stem renewed violence (p. 54).

Chapter 6 addresses the context (environmental and temporal) of the peace operations and covers such issues as type of conflict, conflict phase, disputant characteristics, external actors, and internal geography. This chapter also addresses issues such as attacks on peacekeepers that are becoming more and more prevalent in modern peace operations: “Opponents of peace missions may be tempted to attack the peacekeepers if doing so will weaken the resolve of the sponsoring agency or troop donor states” (p. 146). Another environmental issue is the extent to which local governance is willing to accept the legitimacy of foreign peace forces: “The peace operation may undermine local authorities in several ways. Reestablishing order with regular security forces might decrease the power of local militias as well as decrease corruption opportunities that benefit local leaders. Other peace activities may serve to strengthen rival political or ethnic factions or groups” (p. 148).

“Putting it All Together,” chapter 7 introduces offsetting effects, reinforcing effects, and trumping effects. An offsetting effect is one where an improvement in one region of an affected country may be offset by a worsening of that same indicator in another region of the country. A reinforcing effect would be one where violence abatement efforts themselves spread, resulting in lowered violence in regions where no specific efforts had been made. A trumping effect is one where improvement in a particular effect seems to be of paramount importance to make improvements elsewhere. The example given is the effect of violence on voter turnout. Until the violence is reduced, it will be very difficult or impossible to make real improvements in other effects. Hence, violence levels are trumping effects.

The authors conclude by applying the tables from the previous chapters in a brief sample assessment of peace operations in Bosnia in the 1990s. They use the 1995 Dayton Peace Accords as a timestamp for intervention, enabling them to perform a before/after analysis. Results of the Bosnia assessment are recorded in tables that tie back to the templates in chapters 3–5 (the core, nontraditional, and peacebuilding goals).

The greatest contribution of this book is its value as a practical guide for assessing peace operations, something made easier by the elucidation of core, nontraditional, and peacebuilding goals into table templates and the examples that show how these templates can be used in a practical example. Its contribution to the theoretical side of peace operations is less significant.

Dr. Clark Capshaw

"The views expressed are those of the author(s) and do not reflect the official policy or position of the US government or the Department of Defense."