New article co-authored by John Gledhill examines links between regime type and involvement in UN peacekeeping

27 February, 2019

A new article co-authored by Associate Professor John Gledhill examines how a country’s regime type affects its willingness to contribute to United Nations peacekeeping operations, and finds that while democracies are more likely to contribute some troops, non-democracies are more likely to make large-scale contributions.

The article, published in the European Journal of International Relations, is co-authored with Allard Duursma of ETH Zurich.

Previous research has suggested that leaders of democratic regimes are particularly willing to contribute troops to UN peacekeeping operations because backing ‘liberal’ peacekeeping allows them to support the diffusion of liberal institutions and values. However, the evidence for this is based on contribution patterns during the decade after the Cold War.

In this article, the authors argue that the introduction of more ‘robust’ and risky forms of peacekeeping during the 1990s has made democratic governments reluctant to contribute large numbers of peacekeepers.

They suggest elected leaders are now concerned that voters may object to the deployment of national troops to high-risk humanitarian missions in which there is no clear national interest. By contrast, non-democratic leaders partly discount public opinion because they are less reliant on popular support to retain power. So when non-democrats see that contributing troops will bring them reputational and/or resource benefits, they are willing to do so — and on a large scale.

The authors test their claims quantitatively and find that since the 1990s, democratic governments have remained more likely than non-democrats to contribute some troops to UN peacekeeping operations, but non-democratic governments have been more likely to make large-scale contributions. They also find that governments have been especially reluctant to make sizeable contributions to peacekeeping when elections are on the horizon.

Allard Duursma and John Gledhill (2019) ‘Voted out: Regime type, elections and contributions to United Nations peacekeeping operations’, European Journal of International Relations, DOI: 10.1177/1354066119830773