The civilian dimension of peacekeeping operations and human rights promotion


Project Leader

Project Period

  • 2019-2023


Previous and current associated members

  • Masumi Honda
  • Sofia Kahma
  • Joanna Grace Nakabiito
  • Felix Kube
  • Claudia Pfeifer Cruz
  • Michael Frei


United Nations (UN) peacekeeping operations have become one of the most prominent responses to civil wars around the world. The role of civilian personnel and their activities have proliferated during the last two decades and become increasingly central, whereby the promotion of human rights is one of the core function of UN peacekeeping operations. Our knowledge, however, about the impact of civilian staff and activities on protecting human rights standards is inconclusive and the underlying mechanisms remain unclear. We explore whether and how the civilian components of UN peacekeeping operations improve human rights standards. To achieve this goal, we disaggregate the civilian dimension of peacekeeping operations into civilian personnel and their activities.

Empirically, we collect and analyse novel data that disaggregates peacekeeping operations along these key dimensions. By using statistical methods that exploit between- and within- country variation, we examine whether and how the different civilian components affect peacekeeping operations’ ability to improve human rights practices.

The results from the project will generate valuable insights into how to design more effective peacekeeping operations. The four-year project will be carried out in collaboration with senior and junior scholars from four leading research and policy-oriented institutions in Sweden and Germany. The project output includes novel data, peer-reviewed articles, and policy briefs. 


  • Otto, Sabine: The Civilian Side of Peacekeeping: New Research Avenues, Peace Economics, Peace Science and Public Policy, 2019.

  • Otto, Sabine and Jair van der Lijn (2022): Civilian Components in Peace Operations, in Han Dorussen (ed.). Peacekeeping and International Relations. London: Edward Elgar Publishing, 163-180

  • Otto, Sabine: Was bringen UN Friedensmissionen?, Katapult. Magazin Für Karrtografik und Sozialwissenschaft, No. 24, Jan -März, 22-25.


Swedish Research Council

Last modified: 2023-10-02