Palais des Nations, Geneva, 2013

Palais des Nations, Geneva, 2013

My research focuses broadly on the relationship between international organizations and domestic security, order, and human rights outcomes, focusing particularly on peace operations, the politics of the United Nations Security Council and international involvement in peace processes. I also study the evolving precedents and procedures surrounding civil war intervention at the Security Council. I'm particularly concerned with the roles that the precedent of past action and the simultaneity of UN interventions play in structuring the international community’s responses to civil wars, and how the UN’s central role in managing civil wars globally affects the calculations of actors in conflict cases and great powers alike.  Most peace operations are sent to strategically secondary states, where traditional arguments about powerful states’ interests do not apply easily, and given the expanding constellation of peace operations, the political calculus of these decisions about security and the use of force bears examination. Accordingly, my research compliments existing scholarship on international organizations by examining the politics of P5 decision making--particularly American decisionmaking--on peace operations, asking what animates powerful states’ allocation of international peace and security when these states’ primary national interests are not at stake. 

My publications and ongoing research are listed below. Please contact me for abstracts or more details. 


 "The Use of Force in UN Peacekeeping," with Lise Morjé Howard,  “The Use of Force in UN Peacekeeping,” with Lise Morjé Howard. International Organization, Vol. 72, No. 1 (Winter 2018), pp. 71-103.  Supplemental appendices are available here

 “Teaching Counterfactuals from Hell,” with Paul Musgrave. Peace Review, Special Issue 30(1): “Teaching Peace and War,” Spring 2018. 

“Peace Operations” with Lise Morjé Howard, for the Oxford Handbook of International Organizations (Jacob Cogan, Ian Hurd, and Ian Johnstone, eds). Ch. 9 (pp.191-210). Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016.

Revise & Resubmit

Women’s Participation in Informal Peace Processes” (with Agathe Christien)

Working Papers

  1. Precedent and Hypocrisy at the UN Security Council

  2. Civilian Protection Mandate and Rates of Sexual Abuse by UN Peacekeepers (with Sophie Huvé)

  3. Non-State Actors and the United Nations Security Council (with Jennifer Raymond Dresden)

  4. “Civilian Norms in Peace Operations and the 2015-2016 Kigali Principles”

Book Manuscript:
Incredible Commitments: How UN Peacekeeping Failures Shape Peace Processes

Abstract: Failure should have consequences. When it does not, we should ask why. The United Nation’s peacekeeping and peacemaking failures in Somalia, Rwanda, West Africa, and the Balkans provoked introspection at the UN, but they did not doom the peacekeeping enterprise: demand for UN intervention increased in the aftermath of these failures, with parties to civil wars worldwide seeking UN assistance to end their conflicts and rebuild their states. This manuscript investigates why peacekeeping survived its early catastrophes and how this survival should lead us to reconsider how peacekeeping works and how wars end. Why do combatants in civil wars engage in UN-led negotiations even when they believe the UN is a failed, flawed contributor to the peace process?   Influential scholarly accounts of peacekeeping suggest it works primarily as a way to manage mistrust—but if managing mistrust is peacekeepers’ central task, then peacekeepers have to both be effective and be known to be effective, or combatants have to be desperate for any intervention to secure a peace. Yet UN peacekeeping is popularly perceived as futile or ineffective, despite substantial scholarly work to the contrary, and many negotiating combatants seem minimally invested in actually forging a peace.

My manuscript suggests that the credible commitment theory of war termination is insufficient: By focusing on whether peacekeepers can forestall recidivism with information, technical support, and credible force, scholars have neglected the corollary question of what demonstrably incredible, failing peacekeepers might provide to combatants. I argue that, even when they have little faith in peacekeepers’ ability to uphold peace agreements, warring parties turn to the UN because its presence in negotiation processes enables unique tactical, symbolic, and post-conflict reconstruction outcomes that have little to do with the end of fighting. Governments and rebels who negotiate with the UN’s assistance after peacekeeping failures may do so because negotiation affords them distributional benefits even when peacekeepers are observably weak, and even when missions fail to keep the peace. I develop this argument with evidence from the UN Security Council; quantitative evidence evaluating relationship between peacekeeping failures and negotiated settlements globally; chapter-length process-traced analyses of peace negotiations in Rwanda from 1990-1994 and Guatemala in the 1980s and 1990s that draw on interviews and archival research; and a concluding section that tracks my argument in several recent cases, including the Syrian and Colombian peace processes.

Ongoing Research

  1. Women in the International Relations Canon: Addressing Gender Imbalances in Syllabi and Citations, with Madison Schramm and Alexandra Stark.

  2. The Democratic Republic of the Congo as UN Laboratory: Peacekeeping Innovations in a Catastrophe

Selected commentary, policy analyses, and reports: 

Women are the Key to Peace,” with Melanne Verveer, Foreign Policy, 8 November 2018.

Reducing Sexual Abuse and Exploitation in UN Peacekeeping Missions: Reforming Data Collection to Inform Action,” with Sophie Huvé, Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security Policy Brief, November 2018.

“Beyond Do Something: Revisiting the International Community’s Role in the Rwandan Genocide,” War on the Rocks, October 2018.

“Connecting Informal and Formal Peace Talks: From Movements to Mediators,” Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security Policy Brief, October 2018.

“Is the UN Security Council Losing Legitimacy?” Political Violence at a Glance, 7 June 2018.

“Keeping the Peace,” Fordham University Faculty Video Lecture Series, April 2018.

“In the UN Security Council, Agreement, Not Discord, is the Norm. But Has it Worked for Peacekeeping?” with Lise Morjé Howard. Political Violence at a Glance, 23 February 2018.

“Writing Women Back In,” with Madison V. Schramm and Alexandra M. Stark, Duck of Minerva, 31 May 2017.

Nikki Haley’s New Role at the United Nations.Political Violence at a Glance, 9 February 2017.

Is UN Peacekeeping Under Fire? Here’s What You Need to Know.” The Monkey Cage, 1 February 2017.

“Power Politics Meets Personal Persuasion: The Role of the Next UN Secretary General,” with Devin Finn. Political Violence at a Glance, 20 September 2016. 

“Strategies and Tools for Preventing Mass Atrocities: Insights from Historical Cases” (Prepared for the Political Instability Task Force with Andrew Bennett, David Kanin, and Lawrence Woocher, August 2012/February 2013)

Progress of the World’s Women 2008/2009: Who Answers to Women—Gender and Accountability (United Nations Development Fund for Women: New York, 2008). Lead Research and Writing Team with Anne Marie Goetz, Hanny Cueva-Beteta, Raluca Eddon, Joanne Sandler, Moez Doraid, Samina Anwar, and Malika Bhandarkar.