The Political Economy of Peace Operations

Book Chapter by Fitriani

The $6.8 billion United Nations Peace Operations (UNPKO) budget for 2017–18 is less than 1 per cent of US defence spending, and below half of 1 per cent of global military expenditure. This relatively small UNP budget finances over 100,000 blue helmet personnel deployed on thirteen of the fifteen current UN missions. However, the monies are spread thinly. A 2015 High-level Independent Panel on UN Peace Operations (HIPPO) Report revealed that the UNP lacks specialised equipment, intelligence, logistics and other assorted military capabilities required to engage in an ever-widening array of military stabilisation, humanitarian and relief operations. Arguably, peace is an international public good, because it benefits all who belong to the world community, without exclusion or exception, and the ‘consumption’ of peace does not reduce its availability to others. However, peace production – or in this regard peace maintenance – is an ‘impure’ public good, in the sense that countries participating in UN peacekeeping expect some sort of economic gain.

Naturally, contributing countries (CCs) seek the highest returns from their investment in peacekeeping, and these may come in many forms; for example, regional stability, a better commercial environment, market access and enhanced international standing. However, for some countries there is a ‘free-riding’ problem associated with UNPKO financing, given that they receive little or no benefit from peace operations located far from their territory, and are thus less inclined to offer financial contributions additional to those assessed non-voluntarily. Moreover, while there are member states that choose to show support through sending uniformed officers to UNP missions, critics, such as Gaibulloev et al. (2015) argue that these CCs are actually self-serving, in that they receive reimbursement from the United Nations, allowing some to make net gains by deploying inexpensive and poorly trained troops and police. Increasingly, the trend is for relatively poorer countries, such as Ethiopia, Bangladesh and India, to deploy the highest number of troops, while relatively rich countries, like Japan and Canada, contribute more to the UNPKO budget based on the size of their economies. This division of labour results in several CCs shouldering a disproportionate share of the UNPKO cost, potentially creating financial fatigue and reducing their interest in supporting peacekeeping missions.

To read the full book chapter by Fitriani, find it in The Political Economy of Defence by Ron Matthews, Cranfield University, UK
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
pp 416-450


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