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Research Report

Has UN Peacekeeping Become More Deadly?: Analyzing Trends in UN Fatalities

Copyright Date: Dec. 1, 2016
Pages: 24

Table of Contents

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  1. (pp. [i]-[i])
  2. (pp. [ii]-[iii])
  3. (pp. 1-1)
  4. (pp. 1-4)

    How deadly is UN peacekeeping? Have UN peacekeeping fatalities increased over the past decades? Those who have attempted to answer these questions differ quite drastically in their assessments. An early study of UN peacekeeping fatalities focusing on the years 1948–1990 found that fatality rates remained steady during that time period.¹ More recent studies argue that UN fatality rates are declining.² Still others focus on specific causes of fatality and argue that only the number of UN fatalities caused by illness has significantly risen over the last decades, while fatalities caused by accidents and malicious acts have remained constant or...

  5. (pp. 4-9)

    A first step in assessing fatalities of UN peacekeepers is to analyze trends in the overall number of fatalities (without controlling for deployment numbers). Figures 1.1–1.4 illustrate overall UN peacekeeping fatalities and fatalities due to malicious acts, accidents, and illness from 1948 to 2015.17 The data includes fatalities of troops, police, and military observers serving in UN missions.18 “Malicious acts” are defined as fatalities that occur as a result of “war; invasion; hostilities; acts of foreign enemies, whether war be declared or not; civil war; revolution; rebellion; insurrection; military or usurped power; riots or civil commotion; sabotage; explosion of...

  6. (pp. 9-10)

    Debate continues over whether UN peacekeeping has become more dangerous. While existing quantitative studies maintain that UN fatalities have either remained stable or decreased in recent years, many peacekeeping practitioners believe that the risks of UN peacekeeping have increased. Jaïr van der Lijn and Timo Smit argue that there are several possible explanations for this discrepancy. First, decision makers and the general public might be consumed by day-to-day business and thus lack a long-term memory or interest in viewing current UN fatality trends with a historical perspective. Second, in today’s “Twitter era” casualties and incidents have become more visible. And...

  7. (pp. 20-20)