Use of Force to Protect Civilians in United Nations Peacekeeping: Military Culture, Organisational Learning and Troop Reticence

Sukanya Podder, Kaushik Roy

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Abstract

In the literature there is growing acknowledgement that the use of force to protect civilians by peacekeeping troops is variable. We contribute to this debate by developing a preliminary theory of troop reticence. We do this, by highlighting the links between military culture and organisational learning and the differences in how western and non-western militaries approach the use of force during counterinsurgency (COIN) and peacekeeping operations. We apply our theory to the Indian case, using examples from domestic COIN operations, and from longitudinal cases of peacekeeping participation by the Indian troops to explore variation. We extend our empirical findings through primary interviews with Indian military peacekeepers; and United Nations mission (UN) staff. Our findings confirm that although there is significant learning around civilian protection on the part of Indian troops from internal counterinsurgency operations, there are also important operational differences. Problems with insubordination to international command, gaps in intelligence analysis, and ambiguity over the rules of engagement amidst host-state directed armed attacks on civilians, can make troops hesitant to execute the protection of civilians (PoC) mandate more robustly.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCivil Wars
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 10 Jun 2022

Keywords

  • troop-contributing country
  • India
  • Civilian Protection
  • Use of Force

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