Book Review: Dorussen, H. (Ed.). (2022). Handbook on Peacekeeping and International Relations. Elgar, 408 p.

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Han Dorussen’s Handbook on Peacekeeping and International Relations (Dorussen, 2022) offers a thorough examination of the deployment of peacekeepers, their operational strategies, and the multifaceted outcomes, including unforeseen consequences. Additionally, the Handbook delves into critical discussions surrounding post-conflict issues such as criminal activities, sexual and gender-based violence, and environmental impacts.

The fundamental idea presents an in-depth analysis of all aspects of peacekeeping operations and its influence on international relations. The book investigates the origin of peacekeeping as an area of study, the multidimensional nature of mandates, the financial elements of peace operations, the significance of consent, and the function of various peace mission compositions. It emphasizes the complexity and importance of peacekeeping in conflict management and resolution, as well as the need for further study and nuanced knowledge in this field.

Chapter 1 (Peacekeeping as Rule-Based Interventions in International Relations) explores the delayed recognition of peacekeeping in International Relations research, citing a preference for topics like alliances, power balance, arms races, and diplomacy, and highlighting theoretical, practical, and data-related factors behind its recent scholarly attention.

Chapter 2 (Mandating Peacekeeping Operations and International Law) examines multifaceted nature of mandates in studies of peace operations, as they serve as goals and standards for the United Nations (UN) operations while also elucidating the constraints and preferences of Security Council members.

Chapter 3 (Peacekeeping Financing) studies peace operation financing, urging revised cost estimates encompassing all funding sources for cross-institutional comparability, and recommends further research on the influence of financing methods on actor behavior, peacekeeping efficacy, and associated risks such as coups, mutinies, and civilian peacekeeper morale in the context of budget cuts.

Chapter 4 (Consent in Peacekeeping) underlines the vital role of consent in peacekeeping, recognizing the complexities of securing and upholding it amid fluctuating interests and potential misinterpretations, ultimately proposing that a nuanced grasp of consent can enhance mission efficacy, averting peacekeeping failures.

Chapter 5 (The Composition of UN Peacekeeping Missions) emphasizes the significance of the UN peace mission composition and diversity. The authors argue that missions should be managed and leveraged to minimize coordination problems and misunderstandings, transforming diversity into a “force multiplier.”

Chapter 6 (Naming Names: UN Security Council Resolution Sentiment in Civil Wars) explores the impact of the UN Security Council consensus and resolution tone on conflicts, proposing that analyzing resolution frequency and tone could offer a nuanced perspective on the UN conflict management priorities and the prevalence of specific resolutions.

Chapter 7 (Mediation, Political Missions, and Peacekeeping) finds that peacekeeping is a component of a political conflict management process that contributes to conflict resolution in a relative and complementary manner.

Chapter 8 (Non-UN Peacekeeping) offers an overview of non-UN peace operations, with a focus on a systematic comparison of the UN and non-UN peacekeeping. Beyond this, the challenge lies in deciding when a non-UN mission is peacekeeping as opposed to a one-sided military intervention with the aim of supporting one of the conflict parties.

Chapter 9 (Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration (DDR) and Peacekeeping Operations) presents the conceptual and practical evolution of DDR. Then, its role within peacekeeping operations is examined, especially regarding the challenges brought by new warfare dynamics in the 21st century.

Chapter 10 (Peacekeeping, Security Sector Reform, and the Rule of Law) discusses that greater personnel numbers in UN missions generally enhance the rule of law, with civilian and rule of law-specific personnel demonstrating a stronger correlation compared to uniformed personnel, indicating that the impact on the rule of law may vary depending on the personnel type.

Chapter 11 (Public Information and Strategic Communications in Peace Operations) sheds light on the importance of public information and strategic communications in peace operations, highlights the need for further research, and provide a comprehensive overview of the public information and strategic communications in peace operations.

Chapter 12 (Civilian Components in Peace Operations) fills a significant knowledge gap regarding the roles and impacts of civilian personnel in peace operations, offering both an overview and research directions to enhance our understanding and contributing valuable insights to the broader field of peace operations research.

Chapter 13 (Peacekeeping and Conflict Resolution) explores the UN peacekeepers’ effectiveness in resolving civil conflicts by examining conflict intensity, peace duration, and recurrence, but cautions against overly simplistic definitions that may overlook the intricate nature of long-term peace and mission evaluation.

Chapter 14 (Peacekeeping and the Geographic Diffusion and Containment of Conflict) explores the geography of armed conflicts but underscores the need for comprehensive research into modern containment strategies, mechanisms, data collection, and spatial considerations to enhance the effectiveness of peacekeeping efforts.

Chapter 15 (Peacekeeping, and the Protection of Civilians) underlines that despite notable failures, the UN’s potential to safeguard civilians in conflict zones is supported by evidence in the scholarly literature, calling for continued research to address challenges and enhance peacekeeping strategies.

Chapter 16 (Peacekeeping and Electoral Violence) provides a comprehensive academic review of the impact of peacekeepers on peace during elections, providing a nuanced analysis of their role in mitigating electoral violence while effectively synthesizing previous research, highlighting potential challenges, and charting future research avenues.

Chapter 17 (Peacekeeping Operations and Women’s Security) offers a thought-provoking examination of the peacekeeping protection and women’s security debate, highlighting the importance of considering a wider spectrum of security issues, promoting context-specific analysis, and questioning conventional approaches that may neglect women’s security needs.

Chapter 18 (Peacekeeping and the Problem of Sexual and Gender-based Violence) provides a critical analysis of peacekeeping missions’ role in addressing Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) and Conflict-Related Sexual Violence (CRSV), shedding light on both their potential to mitigate these issues and the challenges posed by sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA) involving peacekeeping personnel.

Chapter 19 (The Material Impact of Peace Operations on the Environment and Cultural Heritage) offers valuable insights into the material impact of the UN peace missions, specifically the environmental and cultural footprint of peacekeepers.

Chapter 20 (Peacekeeping and Postwar Violence) analyzes the UN peacekeeping missions’ difficulties in addressing postwar violence, underscoring two critical challenges: increased criminal violence and urban unrest, including protests and violent disputes, and stressing that these issues aren't exclusive to postwar scenarios but often escalate during transitional phases.

In conclusion, Han Dorussen’s Handbook on Peacekeeping and International Relations offers an insightful and multifaceted examination of peacekeeping endeavors, making it an indispensable reference for scholars, policymakers, and those engaged in peacekeeping practice. However, the book demonstrates a distinct lack of alternative research methods like case studies, ethnographic research, and critical perspectives. This extensive compilation reinforces the perpetual need for meticulous research and a nuanced comprehension of the intricate dynamics inherent in peacekeeping, thereby encouraging continued exploration and innovation in our quest for global peace and security.


About the authors

Mohamed Adan

RUDN University

Author for correspondence.
PhD Student, Department of Theory and History of International Relations Moscow, Russian Federation


  1. Dorussen, H. (Ed.). (2022). Handbook on peacekeeping and international relations. Elgar

Copyright (c) 2023 Adan M.

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