Obstruction and intimidation of peacekeepers: How armed actors undermine civilian protection efforts


While recent research focuses on why conflict parties attack peacekeepers, little attention has been given to other types of resistance against peacekeeping missions, such as intimidation and obstruction. It is argued in this article that one reason why peacekeepers are obstructed and intimidated is that armed actors that target civilians want to maintain the operational space to carry out attacks against civilians and want to prevent peacekeepers from monitoring human rights violations. A spatially and temporally disaggregated analysis on resistance against peacekeepers in Darfur between January 2008 and April 2009 indeed suggests that the intimidation and obstruction of peacekeepers is more likely to take place in areas with higher levels of violence against civilians. The findings hold when taking into account the non-random occurrence of violence against civilians through matching the data. Finally, anecdotal evidence from other sites of armed conflict than Darfur suggests that resistance against peacekeepers in these cases is also likely to be related to the targeting of civilians. This suggest that in order to be effective in protecting civilians, peace missions should not only be robust as highlighted in previous research, but peace missions should also develop an effective strategy to deal with armed groups that try to prevent peacekeepers from fulfilling their mandate.

Journal of Peace Research