Paul F. Diehl, Jennifer Reifschneider, and Paul R. Hensel, "United Nations Intervention and Recurring Conflict." International Organization 50, 4 (Autumn 1996): 683-700.

The end of the Cold War has signaled a dramatic increase in the number and forms of United Nations intervention into ongoing conflicts. Yet this increased role for the United Nations has not always translated into success. U.N. efforts in Bosnia to deliver humanitarian assistance and to negotiate a peaceful resolution to the internationalized civil war there were repeatedly stymied by the unwillingness of the parties to cooperate. Immediate failures at mediation and peacekeeping are dramatically evident in the continuation of armed conflict, human rights violations, and hostage-taking. Less apparent is the long-term impact that U.N. intervention may have on conflict between the protagonists. In this research note, we explore some of the longer term impacts of United Nations intervention on renewed conflict between the same pairs of states. We examine the incidence of recurring conflict between 262 dyads following an interstate crisis over the period 1946-1992, with special attention to the effect of U.N. intervention on the probability of that recurrence. The results overall point to the ineffectiveness of the United Nations in solving conflicts in the long run, with U.N. intervention apparently having no effect on the occurrence, timing, or severity of future conflict. This was largely unaltered by the level of violence in the original crisis, the relative capabilities of the protagonists, the history of past conflict in the relationship, and the form of crisis outcome. Generally, the form of U.N. intervention also was not associated with future conflict, except that fact finding, mediation, and the like tended to be followed by future conflict. It may be in that case that U.N. efforts directed more toward short-term goals (e.g., stopping the fighting) are not enough to promote long-term conflict resolution. Then U.N. involvement may be a transitory means to limit the most dangerous manifestations of the crisis, but the conflict is repeated shortly thereafter. This result seems particularly sobering for enduring rivalries, where states are most at risk for repeated conflict and war. Implications for policy and future research are discussed.


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