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Reflection on Labour Hierarchies in Peacekeeping: A Study on the Operational Experiences of Military Peacekeepers

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)701-731
Number of pages31
JournalInternational Peacekeeping
Issue number5
Published20 Oct 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information: Sukanya Podder received support from King?s College London, through a faculty research grant. The authors wish to thank all the military officers who took part in this research and the military leadership on the Advanced Command and Staff Course (2017-2018) for supporting this study. An earlier draft of this paper benefited from comments by David Curran, Mats Berdal, two anonymous referees, and panellists at the ISA-Asia Pacific conference held at Singapore in July, 2019. Publisher Copyright: © 2021 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • 13 Aug 2021 in press

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    Uploaded date:18 Aug 2021

    Version:Accepted author manuscript

King's Authors


Why do the attitudes of United Nations military peacekeepers towards peacekeeping shift after their deployment from positive to negative ones and how do labour hierarchies influence this shift? Using surveys with military peacekeepers gathered within a professional military education (PME) context, we conducted an exploratory pilot study about individual attitudes towards UN peacekeeping operations (UNPKOs) after deployment. We found that a majority changed their opinion about UNPKOs as an effective tool for peacebuilding from positive to negative. Specifically, we found that 82% of troops from the Global South changed their perceptions from positive to negative after deployment; while 59% of Global North peacekeepers did not change their perceptions. This shift was on account of enduring command and control challenges, problems with analysing intelligence, and, the growing demands of robustness to protect civilians, which increasingly place peacekeepers from the Global South at the risk of armed attacks and under scrutiny for underperformance. Findings urge scholars and policy-makers to address the problem of labour hierarchies in the political economy of peacekeeping as a significant source of misalignment between the perceptions and experiences of troops from the Global South and the growing expectations of performance from them.

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