Security Sector Reform and State Building

Questions:  Under what conditions do post-conflict states adopt certain types of security sector reforms?  What types of security sector reforms lead to higher levels of violence and longer-term peace?  How are security sector reforms used by post-conflict states to signal change?  To what extent do certain security sector reforms affect group dynamics within the security sector?

Methods: Field experiment, lab-in-the-field experiment, and cross-national analysis

Book Manuscript:

Rebuilding States through Security Sector Reform
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For over a decade, researchers have been studying how to prevent civil war recurrence. One of the key insights in this literature is that creating functional and effective domestic institutions, such as a reformed security sector, is important for long-term stability.  Moreover, state building in post-conflict states has largely prioritized security sector reform.   Despite this insight and policymaking focus on security sector reform, the extent to which security sector reforms contribute to long-term peace and stability is understudied.

Related Papers 

“Evaluating the Changing of the Guards: Survey Evidence from Liberia on Security Sector Female Ratio Balancing Reforms,” British Journal of Political Science (forthcoming)

Building a More Competent Security Sector: The Case of the Liberian National Police” Revise and resubmit at International Peacekeeping (with Ryan Gorman)

“Gender Balancing in the Security Sector: Lab-in-the-Field Evidence from the Liberian National Police” (with Kyle Beardsley, Michael Gilligan, and Robert Blair)

“Policing Ethnicity: Lab-in-the-Field Evidence on Discrimination, Cooperation and Ethnic Balancing in the Liberian National Police” (with Kyle Beardsley, Michael Gilligan, and Robert Blair)

Building Trust in a Reformed Security Sector: A Field Experiment in Liberia (with Robert Blair and Ben Morse)


Gender, Conflict, and Peacekeeping

Questions: What causes variation in female peacekeeping?   What are the experiences of female peacekeepers? How can sexual exploitation and abuse be prevented in peacekeeping missions?  How do peacekeeping missions promote gender equality?

Methods: Representative surveys, cross-national analysis, qualitative methods

Book Manuscript:

Equal Opportunity Peacekeeping: Women, Peace, and Security in Post-Conflict States (2017) Oxford University Press (with Kyle Beardsley)
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Recent developments such as Sweden’s’ Feminist Foreign Policy, the “Hillary Doctrine,” and the integration of women into combat roles in the U.S. have propelled gender equality to the forefront of international politics. The UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations, however, has been integrating gender equality into peacekeeping missions for nearly two decades—as part of the women, peace and security agenda that has been most clearly articulated in UNSC Resolution 1325.  To what extent have peacekeeping operations achieved gender equality in peacekeeping operations and been vehicles for promoting gender equality in post-conflict states?  While there have been major improvements related to women’s participation and protection, there is still much left to be desired. In Equal Opportunity Peacekeeping, we argue that gender power imbalances between the sexes and among genders place restrictions on the participation of women in peacekeeping missions.  Specifically, discrimination, a relegation of women to safe spaces, and sexual exploitation, abuse, harassment, and violence (SEAHV) continue to threaten progress on gender equality.  Using unique cross-national data on sex-disaggregated participation of peacekeepers and on the allegations of SEAHV, as well as original data from the UN Mission in Liberia, we examine the origins and consequences of these challenges. We also identify and examine how increasing the representation of women in peacekeeping forces, and even more importantly through enhancing a more holistic value for “equal opportunity,” can enable peacekeeping operations to overcome the challenges posed by power imbalances and be more of an example of and vehicle for gender equality globally.

Other Related Publications:

”Re-Evaluating Peacekeeping Effectiveness: Does Gender Neutrality Inhibit Progress?” International Interactions, DOI:10.1080/03050629.2017.1231113

“Peacekeeping, International Norms, and Transactional Sex in Monrovia, Liberia,”(2017) International Organization, (with Michael Gilligan, Bernd Beber, Jenny Guardado Rodriguez)

“Explaining Sexual Exploitation and Abuse in Peacekeeping Missions: The Role of Female Peacekeepers and Gender Equality in Contributing Countries,” in the Journal of Peace Research, Vol. 53(1) January 2016 (with Kyle Beardsley)

“Women and Peacemaking/Peacekeeping,” Forthcoming in Oxford Bibliographies in International Relations, Edited by Patrick James, New York: Oxford University Press,  (with Kyle Beardsley)

Karim, Sabrina. (Forthcoming) “The Women, Peace and Security Agenda in Peacekeeping Missions: Participation of and Protection by Female Peacekeepers in the U.N Mission in Liberia (UNMIL).” Oxford Handbook on Women, Peace and Security, Edited by Sarah E. Davies and Jacqui True, Oxford University Press.

Karim, Sabrina. (Forthcoming) “Gender and Peacekeeping.” Routledge Handbook of Gender and Security, Edited by Caron E. Gentry, Laura J. Shepherd and Laura Sjoberg, Routledge.

“Women in UN Peacekeeping,” In Gender and Women in Military Affairs: A Comparative Study, Edited by Robert Egnell, Georgetown University Press

“Gender and Peacekeeping,” In Oxford Handbook on Gender and Conflict, Edited by Naomi Cahn, Nahla Valji, Dina Haynes, and Fionnuala Ni Aolain, Oxford: Oxford University Press, Forthcoming (with Marsha Henry)

“Ladies Last: Peacekeeping and Gendered Protection,” In A Systematic Understanding of Gender, Peace, and Security: Implementing UNSC 1325, Edited by Ismene Gizelis and Louise Olsson, Oxford: Routledge, 2015 (with Kyle Beardsley)

“Female Peacekeepers and Gender Balancing: Token Gestures or Informed Policymaking?” International Interactions, Volume 39(4) August 2013 (with Kyle Beardsley)

U.N. peacekeeping and transactional sex,” Monkey Cage Blog Post, (with Michael Gilligan, Bernd Beber, Jenny Guardado Rodriguez)