Share Share via TwitterShare via FacebookShare via LinkedInShare via E-mail “Our model suggests that conflicts in economically isolated countries are less likely to receive attention from the U.N. than are conflicts in more economically engaged states,” authors Jaroslav Tir, professor of political science at CU-Boulder, and Szymon M. Stojek, who recently graduated with a doctoral degree from the University of Georgia, write. New research led by a University of Colorado Boulder professor finds that nations torn by civil strife that have strong trade relations with the United Nations’ key decision-making states have a 20-percent greater likelihood of receiving peacekeepers.These same countries – the five permanent members of the U.N. including the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Russia and China; along with Germany and Japan -fund nearly three-quarters of all peacekeeping missions around the world.Jaroslav Tir, professor of political science at CU-Boulder and Szymon M. Stojek, who recently graduated with a doctoral degree from the University of Georgia, wondered why, given their effectiveness in slowing or stopping civil strife, peacekeepers are used in only about a third of civil wars around the world.In their paper, “The supply side of United Nations peacekeeping operations: Trade ties and United Nations-led deployments to civil war states,” published recently in the European Journal of International Relations, they conclude that the answer can be found by following trade relationships.“Our model suggests that conflicts in economically isolated countries are less likely to receive attention from the U.N. than are conflicts in more economically engaged states,” the authors write.That makes economic sense, according to Tir. War destroys markets and trade, so nations have more incentive to invest their peacekeeping resources in places where the cessation of violence will have tangible economic benefits.The permanent U.N. Security Council members, known as the P5, are “looking for a good return of investment of their peacekeeping dollars,” the authors write. “The intensity of the economic relationship between the P5 and the civil war state at the time when the civil war nears its end represents a credible signal of future economic value.”Of course, not all P5 members are equal. The U.S. far outpaces all other members, funding 27.17 percent of peacekeeping costs in 2010, followed by non-P5 member Japan (12.53 percent), the UK (8.16), non-P5 Germany (8.02), France (7.56), non-P5 Italy (5 percent) and China (3.94). Russia, the fifth permanent member, comes in at number 11, funding just 1.98 percent of peacekeeping costs.Despite the imbalance, Tir notes that by funding the lion’s share of peacekeeping costs, the United States gains numerous advantages. First, it can usually keep its own troops out of the field. In addition, U.N. peacekeeping serves to protect U.S. interests while continuing to participate as a member of the international community.“If the U.S. goes it alone into some country, it looks like it’s out for self-interest,” Tir said. “In some parts of the world, that smells like imperialism or neo-colonialism.”Meanwhile, given that the U.S. foots more than a quarter of the bill, other member states are typically willing to defer when the U.S. gets behind a peacekeeping effort.The study implies that more trade and interconnectedness between major U.N. member nations and other countries can prevent civil conflicts from spiraling out of control. Tir cites the current war in Syria as an example of how isolation can translate into increasing civil conflict.Civil wars have killed some 17 million people since the end of World War II. And while they rage mostly within national borders, their costs all too commonly spread to neighboring countries. And once a cycle of civil war begins, it can be hard to stop. Nearly half of all civil wars in which hostilities cease are reignited within five years, research shows.“U.N. peacekeeping stands out as a fairly effective way to prevent civil wars from restarting,” says Tir, a native of Croatia, which struggled with civil conflict in the 1990s. “It’s not cheap, but compared to other things, it is also cost-effective.”Contact: Jaroslav Tir, [email protected] Julie Poppen, CU-Boulder media relations, (O) 303-492-4007 (M) [email protected] Published: Sept. 3, 2015 Categories:Education & OutreachNews Headlines Photo courtesy of the United Nations.