Do United Nations peacekeeping operations improve the security of humanitarian aid workers during conflict? Answering this question is important given the critical assistance that humanitarian personnel provide in conflict zones, the increased integration of humanitarian activities in UN operations in recent decades and the growing incidence of attacks against aid workers worldwide. Researchers have found that the presence of peacekeepers does not positively affect aid worker security and may even make humanitarian personnel more vulnerable to violent attacks. However, previous studies have not examined whether the effect of peacekeeping operations on aid worker security is influenced by the personnel composition of UN missions. I hypothesize that operations with more troops are likely to reduce attacks against aid workers, while similar security gains are unlikely to be realized with larger numbers of police or observers. This is due to troops’ specific capabilities, which increase their ability to mitigate high-intensity conflict environments and protect humanitarian personnel traveling on roads. Statistical analyses of monthly data between 2000 and 2015 indicate that greater numbers of UN troops, but not police and observers, are correlated with fewer attacks against aid workers. The implications of these findings are discussed, with an eye toward addressing challenges facing the UN’s force-generation process.
This was originally published on SAGE Publications Ltd: Journal of Peace Research: Table of Contents.