October 3, 2007

Book Review - Peacekeeping

These three titles provide complementary perspectives in the study of peacekeeping.

Understanding Peacekeeping

Alex J. Bellamy, Paul Williams, and Stewart Griffin
JZ 6374 .B45 2004

Why Peacekeeping Fails
Dennis C. Jett
JZ 6374 2000

Building Sustainable Peace
edited by Tom Keating and W. Andy Knight
JZ 5538 .B85 2004

Bellamy, Williams, and Griffin's work provides a foundational understanding of the peacekeeping field. The first part provides context by explaining the role that peacekeeping plays in international politics and introducing the characters who are involved in peacekeeping activities. The second part details the historical development of this practice, providing a relationship between war and peace. The third part defines and analyzes a variety of difference peacekeeping operations. Finally, the book highlights challenges of peacekeeping among contemporary challenges of globalization, contracting, changing political leadership and escalating violence.

Jett's work builds on that of Bellamy, Williams, and Griffin, analyzing why many peacekeeping efforts fail. He briefly establishes the history of the peacekeeping movement before pointing to examples of failures. His intention is to identify factors that cause peacekeeping operations to fail, hoping that in doing so, the success rate of these missions can be increased. To accomplish this, he identifies three phases that all peacekeeping activities must go through. He evaluates characteristics that motivate UN peacekeeping intervention, then moves on to analyze each phase. Finally, he looks at the post-peacekeeping period, arguing that if conditions for lasting peace have not been properly established, the peace can be quickly undone once the peacekeepers have left.

Keating and Knight's work dovetails nicely with Jett's final chapters. Basing their studies on peacekeeping examples drawn from around the world, authors address the question of what conditions were required to establish peace. This acknowledges that the cause of violence or unrest often varies in different contexts. Some of the sources of conflict discussed here include humanitarian conditions, war, judicial inequities, sex and gender discrimination, and political organizations. The last few chapters address the financial and social costs of violence and peacekeeping and the potential for a shift from societies of conflict toward peaceful societies.