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I was very dissatisfied by the sparse evidence that actually existed going against the normal narrative about how UN interventions impact conflict and levels of violence.
The purpose of this research was to give a systematic review of how the UN peacekeeping and how big powers should avoid unilateral interventions and work with the UN instead, to reduce violence in places like Syria, or Yemen.
During the cold war, we focused on fighting against communist powers who emphasised economic democracy and economic issues. We defined ourselves as the democracies who focused on political rights and political democracy. But I think we went too far in our focus on politics only.
When dealing with developing countries, which is where almost all the conflicts are happening, we should listen to them and understand what their real problems are. Usually their real problems are actually development issues, rather than problems of democracy or violence. The main problem that kills more than violence is really poverty.
I have a good example of a case that we normally use as an example of a failure of UN operation. That case is Somalia in the beginning of 1990s.
Many people, and especially Americans, remember how one of the warlords in Somalia managed to capture a few American peacekeepers and, and then paraded with their bodies in the streets of Mogadishu.
These pictures which were televised have been considered a core example of how the UN fails.
However, this part of the mission was a USA-initiated hunt for the warlord Aidid and was not mandated by the United Nations. And it was the consequence of this operation that those 18 American soldiers lost their lives. As the United States went over its UN mandate there, this should not be considered part of the UN failure.
And indeed, the overall number of fatalities of organised violence was reduced drastically by that UN operation.
This research was based on an extensive computer-assisted analysis of textual data using NVivo program for the creation of quantitative textual data. The textual material was from 1989 to the present day. This data was coded and analysed using statistical software Stata. It compared fatalities from organised violence in operations operations/places, and at different times with approaches that textual data revealed in those operations and times. This way it was possible to see what kind of agency and method saves lives and what kind of agents and approaches just escalate violence.