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 ongoing research is listed below. Please contact me for abstracts or more details.
“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.
1. Precedent and Hypocrisy at the UN Security Council
2. Civilian Protection Norms in Peace Operations and the 2015- 2016 Kigali Principles
Peace is a Distributional Problem: UN Peacekeeping and the Benefits of Bargaining
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?
Breaking with influential arguments about peacekeeping and war termination, 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. I investigate four potential benefits to negotiation. The first is peace: some parties to negotiation will primarily want to end bloodshed and suffering. Negotiation with international assistance may also, however, bring tactical, material, or symbolic benefits to the conflict termination process: it might offer combatants time away from the battlefield to regroup, rearm, and launch unexpected attacks; it might bring economic benefits in the form of aid, state building, or post-conflict reconstruction; or it might be a process through which guerrillas secure recognition from the international community as legitimate political actors.
I develop this argument with regression analysis of the relationship between peacekeeping failures and negotiated settlements globally, and with chapter-length process-traced analyses of peace negotiations in Rwanda from 1990-1994, Guatemala in the 1980s and 1990s, and Sierra Leone in the 1990s and early 2000s. I draw on interviews with combatants and negotiators; oral histories; and data and archival materials from the UN, the Rwandan parliamentary archive, and the National Security Archive, to challenge existing scholarship on UN peacekeeping and war termination, and to re-imagine the relationship between parties to civil wars and peacekeepers, placing individual interventions within the evolving global apparatus of UN conflict management. My manuscript offers a theoretical challenge to the dominant understandings of intervention and war termination and a novel empirical account of how the evolving tools of global governance and conflict management have unintended consequences across a broad range of contemporary civil wars.
1. Women in the International Relations Canon: Addressing Gender Imbalances in Syllabi and Citations, with Madison Schramm and Alexandra Stark. A blog post outlining the project and a collaborative bibliography to help address the citation gap on international relations syllabi are available here.
2. The Democratic Republic of the Congo as UN Laboratory: Peacekeeping Innovations in a Catastrophe
3. The Politics of Address: Non-state Actors and the UNSC, with Jennifer Raymond Dresden
Policy Analyses and Reports:
“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.