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Peacekeeping Economy: Effect on Local Market Economy and Gender Divisions in Conflict Regions

do not necessarily reflect the views of

Siyan Chen (2007) in, The Aftermath of Civil War, professed that, “the cost of war is manifest in the failure of conflict countries to make progress in key areas of development…however, when peace is achieved and sustained, recovery is possible,” (Chen et. al, 4). The commencement of peacekeeping operations within the international community as a policy instrument, as well as mechanism, to achieve the restoration of peace in conflict and post-conflict areas is oft ascribed to UN Security-General Dag Hammarskjöld (1953-1961). Hammarskjöld implemented the principles and criterion enacted during the 1952 Tripartite Aggression, or the Suez Crisis, during the establishment of the Armistice Agreements between Israel and four of its’ neighbouring Arab countries: Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt and Syria. In modern practice, peacekeeping operations have provided ostensible socio-economic and political conditions for the advancement of peace and stability in conflict-afflicted regions. However, critics postulate that there are multifarious contentions with the processes of peacekeeping missions; in which, it is proposed that the mechanisms and measures of peacekeeping operations may ostensibly prolong conflict through its peace and conflict resolutions—inhibiting conflict resolution. Whereas, advocates for the peacekeeping processes strongly assert that such operations are imperative for ensuring conflict resolution within post-conflict areas, as well as providing sustainable economic development and peace for the affected populations. It can be stated that, various mechanisms implemented in peacekeeping operations have been identified as a source of producing detrimental conditions for the local population. As the implementation process of creating the political and socio-economic conditions for the peaceful transition from a post-conflict state of affairs has been stated to potentially contribute to the disruption of the social conditions of the host state, such as the phenomenon of the ‘peacekeeping economy.’ Kathryn M. Jennings posits that the concept of peacekeeping economies is best understood as “[the] economic activity that either would not occur, or would occur at a much lower scale and pay-rate, without the international presence,” (Jennings, 281). This has notably produced a multitude of controversies pertaining to the new-fangled economic and social processes within the host state, as well as contentious peacekeeper-local relations. This paper will examine peacekeeping economies through a two-fold perspective: first, this paper will examine the effect of international personnel on the local market-economy and living standards for the local communities; and second, this paper will examine the gendered divisions within the economic system and sectors in the conflict-afflicted regions. The development and processes of peacekeeping economies is oftentimes regarded as enigmatic, if not “incidental to the mandated priorities and activities of a peace operation,” (Jennings and Nikolić-Ristanović, 2). It can be stated that, peacekeeping economies are a direct result of the socio-political and economic conditions and impact of peacekeeping deployments in conflict and post-conflict regions.

In the aftermath of World War I (1914-1918) and World War II (1939-1945), on October 24, 1945, the intergovernmental organization, the United Nations, was established with the objective of consolidating peace and security on an international scale. Oftentimes, the United Nations (UN) has addressed conflict and post-conflict nation-states through peacekeeping operations; in which, peacekeeping operations are best understood as the intervention by a ‘neutral actor’ (i.e. the UN) in armed conflict and post-conflict environments. In 1948, as a result of the successes of the preliminary peacekeeping operation within the Middle East region—the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) was formed. The UN Peacekeeping forces are revered for their function as a mechanism, as well as their universality, as an ‘impartial’ third party actor within the international community in universal “conflict management and conflict resolution,” (Parrillo, 652). Hence, United Nations peacekeeping deployments are oftentimes celebrated for their capability, if not adaptability at achieving core security objectives. The United Nations defines peacekeeping missions as “[a] unique and dynamic instrument developed by the Organization as a way to help countries torn by conflict create the conditions for lasting peace,” (Nsia-Pepra, 26). It is notably distinct from the United Nations’ conceptualization, policies, and practices of peace-building and peacemaking. Prior to the Cold War (1947–1991), the personnel components of the peacekeeping missions was limited to the military forces, as well as members of the UN whom serve as a United Nations’ military observers. In the post-Cold War era, however, the contemporary composition of the peacekeeping troops consist of civilian personnel from non-governmental organizations (NGOs), as well as international aid agencies, in conjunction with the military and paramilitary personnel. Present-day peacekeeping troops are predominantly comprised of military and civilian UN personnel and deployed to post-conflict settings to provide aid to matters of contention for international peace and security, including but not limited to, highly militarized conflicts, human rights abuses towards vulnerable segments of the population (i.e. women’s rights and children’s rights) and humanitarian emergencies. However, peacekeeping operations should not be understood as simply security interventions—such deployments often have profound economic consequences on the market-economy of conflict and post-conflict regions.

During peacekeeping missions, the presence of the operation, as well as the peacekeepers—as actors—inevitably restructures the market economy of the societies in which the missions operate. The peacekeeping forces emerge as new ‘actors’ within the economic system of the operation zone, in which the members of the peacekeeping missions interact and engage within the economic and social domains of the host state. The areas in which the deployments situate themselves develop into a realm that is a considerable point of attraction for the mobility of capital. As new actors in the market economy, the peacekeepers engage in the local economic activity. In consequence of the influx of financial assets from the members of the peacekeeping forces, the local businesses rapidly raise their prices; in the rapacious pursuit of capital, local businesses and vendors seek to appease the members of the peacekeeping missions over long-standing community members. Indeed, the inclusion of the members of the peacekeeping forces within the economic system strikingly impacts the demand and supply equilibrium of the host societies. The processes of exchange and flow of capital injected into local economies by peacekeeping deployments should be understood in absolute terms, in the context of the economic collapse of such post-war societies, it is no pittance; as “peacekeeping missions stimulate demand in depressed economic environments,” (Berber et. al, 2). This phenomenon is referred to as the ‘peacekeeping economy,’ which refers to the economic activities associated with the presence of a peacekeeping mission in a certain location, or ‘host state.’ In Bernd Berber’s co-publication, Challenges and Pitfalls of Peacekeeping Economies, the co-authors postulates that the inflation of the traditional and local economic systems of the host societies of the peacekeeping mission can be correlated to the short-run effects of revenue windfalls in public and private sectors; as “countries experiencing such windfalls can come to be haunted by a resource curse, characterized by unaccountable elites capturing rents while growth and development stagnate,” (Berber et. al. 5). Kathryn M. Jennings (2009) postulates a critical analysis of ubiquitous scholarship on matters of contention that comprise the bodies of literature in relation to post-conflict economic development; in which the pervasiveness of ‘peacekeeping economies’ in post-conflict regions has not incited the production of literature on the subject matter. Nor has a definitive definition of the phenomena, the peacekeeping economy, been formulated; this is perhaps best evident within a 2006 report, Economic Impact of Peacekeeping, in which the processes of capital inflows into local economies is examined but the term nor the concept is explicitly referenced. Berber and co-authors posit that there is, indeed, a correlation between the presence of peacekeeping deployments and an upsurge in capital inflows within the local economic system. The aggrandizement of the procurement of goods and services within the operation zones can be attributed to the ‘demand curve’ of the members of the peacekeeping operations for non-traded goods. It can be stated that, as a denouement these areas are pertinent, if not apropos to the “spatial organization of the new international division of labour,” (Friedmann, 1986). Individuals, oftentimes residents of the operation zones, whom are unable to adjust to the rise in prices, may enter into the informal economy. Hence, the restructuring of local labor markets prompted new patterns of social and spatial inequality—thus producing a polarization of those higher and lower on the strata of the local labor markets—those whom benefited from the presence of peacekeepers and those whom do not. 

The ‘pro et contra’ of the deployment of the military and/or civilian personnel on the local market-economy within operation zones can be examined through the micro-level developments of the presence of peacekeeper troops’ personnel. In Kathleen M. Jennings and Morten Bøås’ 2015 publication, Transactions and Interactions: Everyday Life in the Peacekeeping Economy, the concept of the peacekeeping economies is described as the “[economic activities] that either would not occur, or would occur at a much lower scale and pay-rate, without the international peacekeeping (or peacebuilding) presence,” (Jennings and Bø˚as, 2015). It is the economic activities correlated, directly and indirectly, with the peacekeeping operations. The co-authors delineate a hierarchical structure to the socio-economic activities associated with the peacekeeping missions; in which, the restructuring of the local labour markets to cater to the incomers results in socio-spatial arrangements in the system of market relations—services and businesses are established to accommodate the members of the peacekeeping mission over the residents of the communities. Hence, “this includes, first, services catering to foreigners, including those provided by hotels, restaurants, bars, and in the transportation and construction sectors; second, the high- and low-skilled jobs available to local staff associated with the mission; and finally, all the downstream economic impacts of these activities on other sectors,” (Jennings and Bø˚as, 2015; Berber et. al, 4). As a result of the restructuring of the local labour market, there is a shift, a dynamic of valorization (Sassen, 1996). Hence, peacekeepers, serve as the privileged class, for which the new system of the market relations operates. However, there are ostensibly positive economic effects on the market-economy of the host state, such as an influx of job creation and economic growth. The impact of the fiscal inflows as a result of United Nations operations on the local market economy is perhaps evident in the manner in which “three quarters of the UN’s peacekeeping budget for 2007-08, averages 1.2 to 1.4 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of host states (depending on which spending scenario one credits), ranging from as little as 0.1 percent in Sudan and Côte d’Ivoire to as much as 4 percent in Liberia and Timor,” (Durch, 158). Indeed, the deployments of peacekeeping forces and personnel are substantial but consequential, contributors to the local economies of host states. Therefore, the socio-spatial arrangements and transactions of operation zones are put forward Jennings and Bøås’ publication, as tenuous, if not immaterial, without the presence of the members of the peacekeeping deployment. Such rumination is explored in David Harvey’s 1978 text, The Urban Process under Capitalism, where it is through his examination of the two modes of urban processes, accumulation and class struggle, in which the author attests that “the class character of capitalist society means the domination of labor by capital,” (Harvey, 1978).  David Harvey affirms that the objectives of capitalist societies are exclusively to accrue capital. The operation zones are, in effect, transformed through the modern spatial configurations that are produced through the fiscal interactions of the peacekeepers with the inhabitants, as well as the local economic actors. It can be stated that, this is related to the form and extent of the peacekeepers integration into the local system of market relations; in which, the procurement and purchasing practices of goods and services within the local market-economy of military and/or civilian UN personnel has long-lasting ramifications and repercussions on the economic trajectory of the post-conflict region. As, “local spending associated with peacekeeping missions can amount to a short-term spike in the demand for certain goods and services, but is not the sort of spending that necessarily promotes long-term economic stability and development,” (Berber et. al, 3). It can be stated that, the precarious manner in which the capital inflows is oftentimes injected into the market economy before the implementation of longer-term development aid and foreign direct investments (FDI) into the economic system affects long-term economic stability and local development within operation zones. 

There are, indeed, conceivable consequences to the supplementary exchange and flow of capital, labour, and goods as a result of the withdrawal of the peacekeeping forces. There is a markedly sizable economic growth as a result of the residency of the peacekeepers, on the other hand—the aforesaid economic growth declines, if not collapses, sub-sequential to the departing of the deployments. The ramifications of the interim increment of the productive capacity or the economic growth of the post-war area—may in turn, produce an economic disruption of the operation zones as a result of the withdrawal of the peacekeeping forces. This is a result of the manner in which, “peacekeeping missions can have large, but not necessarily desirable economic impacts,” (Berber et. al, 2). It should be noted that, the responsibility of armed forces deployed to post-conflict areas is to ensure economic growth, as well as regulate capital inflows for post-conflict reconstruction and development aid. However, there is currently a shortfall of a systematic approach to assessing and quantifying the effectiveness, as well as the costs and benefits peacekeeping operations within post-conflict transition economies. This system was established as a means to assess whether the administrative and judicial systems is able to implement and support the reconstruction operation and processes without direct military control. For instance, the aim of the assessment is to determine whether the presence of the peacekeeping forces reinforces and supports economic stability, as well as contributes to overall economic growth. In addition, it is imperative to adduce the remunerations, as well as benefits of the practices and procedures in the allocation of resources on peacekeeping operations for the host societies’ economic development.  One may note that, “the three main categories of local spending that remain after all such “external” spending had been pruned away were: (1) living allowances distributed in cash (for UN staff and experts on mission – this is called Mission Subsistence Allowance, or MSA; for UN Volunteers (UNV) it is Volunteer Living Allowance, or VLA); (2) the salaries of locally-hired mission staff (“national staff”); and (3) the local content of mission procurement (goods and services originating in the state hosting the mission),” (Durch, 158).The inflation of the “bubble” peacekeeping economies can be understood as a denouement of the manner in which operations often obtain fiscal reserves that are substantially larger than the local economies of operation zones. This results in premium prices for food and the housing sector that are notably aligned in accordance with the income of the international personnel of the peacekeeping operations rather than that of the residents of the local communities. The disruption of the local market-economy by way of the establishment of additional service and trade sectors may ultimately stagnate the economic growth and progress of the conflict-afflicted region after the withdrawal of the international personnel from the operation zone.

Nevertheless, the socio-economic implications and ramifications of the deployment of peacekeeping troops within post-conflict operation zones, is often overlooked in the proliferation of ubiquitous, or prevalent, scholarship that have analyzed the nature and effects of the international intervention despite the manner in which, the United Nations has “identified economic considerations as a crucial component of successful peacebuilding,” (Doyle and Sambanis, 2000[1]). In addition, economic interventions in post-conflict environments are often ascribed as imperative in UN Security Council endorsed multidimensional approaches to peacebuilding and reconstruction programmes; as “peacekeeping missions were ‘economic forces’ in their own right and that it was important to strengthen their link with local economics,” (United Nations, 2013a; Berber et. al, 2) for the objective of long-term stability. Kathryn M. Jennings (2009) strongly asserts that the negation of the elucidation of the phenomenon of the formation of “bubble” economies—as a direct result of the socio-economic and political impact of the presence of peacekeeper troops—in prevalent scholarship has culminated in insufficient analytical and policy consideration. The rehabilitation and development of the economic variable of post-conflict reconstruction is through measures, including but not limited to: the distribution of relief assistance, stimulating the local market-economy, and the restoration of community facilities and infrastructure. Therefore, the multidimensional objectives of peacekeeping mission can range from facilitating sustainable socio-economic development to the restoration of law and order through hard power incentives (i.e. militaristic interventions) to soft power incentives, such as the implementation of social policies and peace agreements. The safeguarding of individual countries is correlated with the advancement of the international security environment; therefore, each nation-state participates, on a regional and global level, within the peacekeeping processes. In pursuance of domestic and international security, an amalgamation of measures is employed for peacekeeping operations by way of the deployment of military and peacekeeping force; however, the stipulations of peacekeeping operations have generated labour market distortions. 

Therefore, it is imperative to ascertain the manner in which, the restoration of safety measures within operation zones promotes an influx in economic activity within host societies, in order to optimize ‘positive’ local economic influences and reducing ‘negative’ impacts on the market-economy. This is perhaps exemplified in the hiring and remunerating practices of local domestic and security personnel for the peacekeepers deployments’ workforce. This new division of labour can be said to have emerged as a result of the processes of the “financial flows from various peacekeeping missions into the local economies,” (Jennings and Nikolić-Ristanović, 3). The peacekeeping economy can be understood as comprised of individuals, formally and informally, employed or contracted by the members of the peacekeeping troops; in addition, to individuals within the local communities whose livelihoods are contingent, directly and indirectly, on the presence of mission personnel. It can perhaps be put forward, that the peacekeeping economy is inclusive of positions from upper-level workers in non-government organization positions to low-wage labourers engaged in informal or subcontracted industries (i.e. private security, gardening etc.). Indeed, “within the host society, peacekeeping economies include skilled and unskilled workers; local and foreign (expatriate) businesspeople; political, economic and military elites; landlords; professionals and tradespeople; and people working in both the formal and the informal economies,” (Jennings, 313). There is an underrepresentation of working-class occupations within scholarship pertaining to peacekeeping operations and the over-representation of professional and managerial occupations. The over-representation is said to be a product of such occupations being easier to identify in an economic system. This minimizes the visibility of the working class (i.e. blue-collar or semi-skilled service workers) – and increases the gap between the “de-valorized and the valorized sectors of the economy,” (Sassen, 1996). Perhaps, it can be stated that the injection of the capital inflows, as well as the presence of the peacekeeping troops, produces a state of affairs within the local market-economy that mirrors a free-market capitalist system. As a consequence, the locals whom reside within the operation zones become subjected to the structural issues of capitalist societies; in which, capitalism divides individuals into a class system, separating individuals into obscure categories based on net worth of personal property based on the ownership of the means of production. One may note that, the alienation of the working class allegedly began once those who did not produce were able to live off what producers had created. It is believed that this was catalyst for the social incongruity known as ‘class versus classes’Therefore, further social polarization is evident in the manner in which the system of market relations is produced “under conditions of sharp social, earnings, and (often) racial/ethnic segmentation,” (Sassen, 1996). This is evident within operation zones, as in consequence of the influx of financial assets from the members of the peacekeeping forces, the local businesses rapidly raise their prices. For example, neighbourhood shops that are often tailored to community needs, as well as community members, are dispossessed in favour of “super-profits,”—in which, establishments and service sectors often cater to the supply and demands of the peacekeepers. Indeed, the effect of peacekeeping economies is oftentimes deemed as precarious to the local market-economy; in which, the inflationary impacts and distortive effects on sustainable local economic development in the housing sector, as well as maintaining an affordable standard of living for residents. Therefore, “the assumption is that the services, establishments, interests, and impacts of the peacekeeping economy will not outlast the peacekeeping mission, or at least will revert to a more sustainable level,” (Jennings and Nikolić-Ristanović, 5). The infrastructure and services initiated, as well as employment opportunities vacant during the peacekeeping operation, inevitably will phase out of the local market economy after the withdrawal of the international personnel from the host societies. However, it can be postulated that residents and inhabitants within peacekeeping environments endeavour to ultimately, optimize the profits and benefits that materialize with the presence of military and/or civilian UN personnel.

Kewsi Aning and Fiifi Edu-Afful (2015) advance in their co-publication that ‘peacekeeping economies’ further entrench the gendered social norms of power relations within the host state. Indeed, peacekeeping economies are best understood as ascribed to the sexual division of labour—as a result, such ‘economic systems’ are highly gendered. However, as Kathryn M. Jennings postulates, “this does not mean that they necessarily harmful to the local women and men involved, but rather to acknowledge that the peacekeeping economy seems to encompass and affect women and men in significantly different ways,” (Jennings, 2016). It is important to note that, essentially the peacekeeping economy serves as a site for the gendered-specific interactions, as well as transactions, between the members of the local community and international personnel. As a result, the services and activities, directly and indirectly related to peacekeeping economies, affect the societal gendered norms and relations and the production of the sexual division of labour within the operation zones. The sexual division of labour, the allocation of particular tasks between men and women based on normative gender roles, constructed the conceptualization of the gendered spatial division of the public sphere (male space) and the private sphere (female space). In order to provide context, the division of labour can be examined through the dialectics between ‘identities’ and the gendered social order of the host state. An antecedent concept, Sigmund Freud’s psychological conception of “identification,” delineated that the psyche of each individual was comprised of invariable ternary attributes: the id, ego, and super ego (Lapsley and Stey, 1).  This can be understood as a classical approach to the apperception of the phenomena of the conception of ‘identity’; the concept can be understood as encompassing a variation of distinctive factors and typologies unique to an individual; in essence, it is the features that differentiate individuals from other individuals. The formation of personhood, or self-concept, is often hypothesized through the lens of Henri Tajfel and John Turner’s concept of social identity theory. The co-authors postulates that “the self is reflexive in that it can take itself as an object and can categorize, classify, or name itself in particular ways in relation to other social categories or classifications. This process is called self-categorization in social identity theory (Turner, Hogg, Oakes, Reicher, and Wetherell 1987); in identity theory it is called identification,” (McCall and Simmons, 1978; Stets and Burke, 224). The development of a selfhood is through the processes of self-categorization, in which individuals’ ascertain a self-concept through a combination of self-identifications. The ontogenesis of self-concept, in respect to the construction of self-identity, is also ascribed as through the membership of social groups; in which, individuals align, or identify, as adherents to distinct social organizations, networks, and communities. It is through the aggregation of individuals whom associate with social groups and/or social organizations in which individuals formulate collective identities: a shared sentiment of kinship. All individuals are associated with social groups and organizations form a social aggregate which influence, for instance individuals’ class and national identities; the personal identity of the individual becomes integrated with the characteristics and interests of the social group or category. For example, “[peacekeepers] rely upon signs and symbols of militarism and nationalism to situate themselves within specific narratives that consolidate the idea of the professional and patriotic peacekeeper. Demonstrating these ideal, but paradoxical identities, peacekeepers contribute to existing social, moral and cultural peacekeeping economies,” (Henry, 378). It can be stated that, individuals also align and associate their function and duty in the social order through gendered norms. This sanctioned the behavioral ecological model of male and female responsibilities. The home, for example, is considered to be the exclusive area of dominance for the woman—in which her roles are for instance, are limited to reproduction, childcare, and household matters. It can be stated that, the gendered division of labour is also evident within the division of sectors within the local-market economy of the host states in which peacekeeping missions are understood as “masculine” sectors and “feminine” sectors (True, 244).

The operation zones in which peacekeeping troops are deployed are male-dominated spaces; as a result the gendered division of the peacekeeping economies reflect the social order of the host state. It is imperative to examine the gendered societal norms that are exacerbated as a result of the presence of the military and/or civilian personnel of the peacekeeping troops. Indeed, “peacekeeping missions support the economic, political and social transformation of the countries to which they are deployed, providing jobs for the skilled, semi-skilled and the unskilled, as well as training and strengthening the infrastructure of the host country,” (Aning and Edu-Afful, 25). It can be stated that, gendered power relations are shaped by the interactions, as well as affiliations, between the military personnel and the residents of the local communities within the operation zones. Kathryn M. Jennings (2009) posits that “the distortions and excesses of peacekeeping economies, and the services and activities they encompass, help shape local perceptions of the mission (and vice versa), and of the roles, relations, and status of local citizens vis-à-vis international personnel,” (Jennings, 2). However, these interactions are oftentimes exclusive to the limited ‘mandatory’ interactions within peacekeeping missions—producing a social order in which, the peacekeepers are essentially separated from the local communities despite sharing the space within operation zones. This social order can also be understood as gendered. In Marsha Henry’s 2015 publication, Parades, Parties and Pests: Contradictions of Everyday Life in Peacekeeping Economies, Henry strongly asserts that the gendered spatial division of the operation zones are subjected to male-defined social order and androcentric culture; in which, “[the] concentration of male merchant and labouring classes, alongside the predominantly male peacekeeping personnel gives rise to hyper-masculine spaces,” (Henry, 383). The link between the creation of jobs within various local sectors and the peacekeeping economies primarily benefits the male population of the communities within operation zones. In addition, the informal work sector within the operation zones is oftentimes chiefly comprised of the local women whom are subjugated to markedly precarious labour conditions. Domains of the informal sector, such as domestic service and hostess work, are oft deemed as employment areas primarily exclusive to women. Within peacekeeping operations, the United Nation endeavours to assist women whom are marginalized within the host states through such initiatives as “the Disarmament Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) programme provide some sort of income and economic empowerment for women,” (Aning and Edu-Afful, 24). However, it should be noted that, the presence of peacekeeper troops within the operation zones ostensibly further marginalizes women within the conflict-afflicted areas—societies in which these women are already considerably vulnerable.

There are also implications for the male segment of the population within operation zones. Paul Higate (2012) strongly asserts that within various societies, men are expected to conform to a set of heteronormative standards and solely perform actions that “[signify] a common denominator [as an act of] manhood,” (Higate, 38)—activities that can be distinguished from ‘feminine’ actions. Men are also engaged in precarious working conditions; for example, the private security sector is an industry relies primarily on an unskilled labour force. The domestic security guard industry within operation zones (i.e. private security) for the peacekeeping forces, often invokes the performance of ‘militarized violence’ and hegemonic masculine ideals entrenched into the host societies. This has ostensibly proliferated from the ‘public sphere’ (i.e. the field/private militarized security companies) to within the private sphere (i.e. the household) against women; in which, women become victims to gender-based violence. There appears to be a seemingly causal link to the rise acts of domestic violence and the socially constructed desire to fulfill the ‘normative’ standards of a masculine man within hyper-masculine environments, such as the private security industry sector. The institutionalizing of ‘normative’ masculine mannerisms and conduct can be understood as materializing through contemporary social and cultural processes—as men are essentially socialized into becoming ‘masculine’ within the public realm. In addition, akin to the local women who work within the informal service sector “[the] members of this sector were markedly disproportionately poor as well as [engaged] in precarious work environments [in comparison] to their military counterparts, despite engaging in similar hyper-masculine surroundings;” (Mazali, 2016). In addition, positions of power, within the formal and informal sector, are oftentimes designated to men; whereas service sector positions of limited influence and lower wages, such as waitressing and are ascribed to local women. This has considerable influence on the living standards of men and women; as military and/or civilian personnel directly impact the local economy through the hiring of local residents for household services. For example, “in Freetown, Sierra Leone, in 2005 a living wage for a family of four was said to be around US $150 per month, or $1,800 per year. The GDP per capita of Sierra Leone in 2005 was about $217; times four is $868, or slightly less than half a living wage,” (Durch, 165). In consequence of the purported disposable income of international personnel, as well as the rapid increase of the market prices of real estate properties—the living wages and standard for local men and women are markedly distorted as a result. In particular, local women are predominately negatively affected, if not vulnerable, within the peacekeeping economies as a result of the lower-wage occupations. However, in Kathleen M. Jennings and Morten Bøås’s co-publication, Transactions and Interactions: Everyday Life in the Peacekeeping Economy, it stated that “women derive the most benefits from the formal and informal employment opportunities it makes available—even if they do not often penetrate the uppermost tier of peacekeeping economy beneficiaries (i.e. positions of ownership or control),” (Jennings and Bøås, 290). It can be stated that, the measures and structures that comprise the social order to the sectors, domestic service and private security reflect the conventional gendered dimensions and ideologies evident within the mechanisms of the peacekeeping economies.

United Nations peacekeeping deployments are oft correlated with the gendered labour market for transactional sex (i.e. informal exchange-based relationships). It is put forward in the 2016 report, Challenges and Pitfalls of Peacekeeping Economies, that the deleterious social dynamics and dimensions of the sex industry within the market-economy of host societies, is “perhaps the most troubling outgrowth of a reorientation of the economy toward UN personnel,” (Berber et. al, 3). It can be stated that, the recruitment and sexual exploitation of women into the sex industry, are markedly heightened within peacekeeping operation zones; although, the percentage of women in post-conflict zones, in which the legal safeguards on the human rights of women become tenuous, are immense—the operation zones oftentimes becomes a prominent transit point for the human trafficking shift of vulnerable women into the sex industry. Indeed, “in many conflict settings throughout the world, women continue to experience gender-targeted violence, such as rape, sexual slavery, and a host of other human rights abuses, as part of military campaigns and as a result of the breakdown of community norms which tend to accompany armed conflicts,” (Manjoo and McRaith, 44). Indeed, “negative unintended consequences [of peacekeeping missions] include sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA), which affects the reputation of and trust in a mission, undermining its authority,” (Aning and Edu-Afful, 23). In consequence of the influx of the capital inflows within the host states, there is a sharp increase in the trafficking of women and children for prostitution within the operation zones; this is a result of the manner in which, peacekeepers may pay to sexually engage with the local women of the afflicted population. The aftereffect of the rise of the sex industry within the host societies of the peacekeeping operations ostensibly produces the conditions for the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, such as HIV/AIDS. In addition, the demographics of the host countries may become altered by the social interactions between the UN peacekeepers and the local women; for instance, there are a significant number of children conceived as a result of sexual intercourse, ostensibly within the sex trade, between local women and peacekeeper personnel stationed within operation zones. Such engagements are in direct conflict to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). It is, however, postulated from advocates for the peacekeeping operations that it is an onerous process to conclusively determine the magnitude of the material and immaterial impact of the peacekeeping economy on the informal sex sector; furthermore, “it is similarly difficult to determine how much of the peacekeeping economy is captured by elites and other groups in society (including organized crime interests), or the extent of capital flight,” (Jennings and Nikolić-Ristanović, 4). It can be put forward that, the institutional response of the United Nation in regards to the evolving links, if not correlation, between the presence of the peacekeepers and the magnification of sectors affiliated to post-conflict human trafficking—ultimately, “demonstrates the persistence of ‘traditional’ gendered ideologies in peacekeeping,” (Jennings, 313). In, Service, Sex, and Security: Gendered peacekeeping economies in Liberia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Jennings postulates that the sexual division of labour is evident within the framework of the policy and practices of peacekeeping operations; in which, the reformation of socialized norms for women in the public sphere are shaped by the aforementioned time-honoured gendered spatial division of the private sphere, typified as a feminized space, embodies the members of the peacekeeping mission’s  domestic and sexual engagements. In turn, the public sphere is characterized by the hyper-masculinized realm of private security.

The peacekeeping economy is best understood as gendered; the participation of women within the institutions and structures of the economic system is not exclusively sexual or within the sex industry; nonetheless, “a significant aspect of peacekeeping economies – as observed in Bosnia, Kosovo, Haiti, and Liberia, and as documented elsewhere (MacKenzie 2007; Rehn and Johnson Sirleaf 2002; Martin 2005) – is that they are characterized by, and to a certain (unquantifiable) extent dependent upon, the sexual availability of local residents for international actors,” (Jennings and Nikolić-Ristanović, 7). The forms of vocation in sexual labour within the context of the peacekeeping economies are best understood as varied, as well as on a socio-economic spectrum. Indeed, “sex work includes a range of transactions, actors, and degrees of vulnerability and control, which obviously contain, but also go beyond, the phenomena of sexual slavery or survival prostitution taking place in brothels or on the streets. It allows for variations in the “employment status” of sex workers – on a spectrum from enslaved to directly or indirectly employed by a pimp or madam, to self-employed – and in the organization of the contract, from a more formal arrangement that specifies the price and service to an informal, diffuse, often time-based contract akin to employment or indenture,” (O’Connell Davidson 1998: 10; Jennings and Nikolić-Ristanović, 7). The organization of the various means in which the individual member of the peacekeeping force and the local resident can engage in sexual interactions, as well as form arrangements and sexual transactions. For example, transactional sex relations varies from implicit (i.e. courtship) to explicit (i.e. prostitution) comprehension of monetary payment for sexual relations between international personnel and local community members. It is put forward by O’Connell Davidson (1998) that “many skilled and experienced sex workers in sex tourism sites benefit more from these kinds of open-ended, unarticulated exchanges than they would in more straightforward, commoditized transactions,” (Davidson, 97: Jennings, 8). Transactional sexual practices and acts transpire within diverse contexts due to varied economic, social and political conditions; the term refers to the manner in which sexual acts are exchanged for material or financial resources (Chatterji et al., 2005). However, within the context of peacekeeping economies’ local labour markets, the ‘sex sector’ was not limited to individualized sex worker-client exchange; in which, the varied domains of the sex industry permeated occupational structures within wide-ranging establishments, infrastructure and facilities. In addition, the informal ‘sex sector’ intensified as a result of the influx of capital inflows from the peacekeeping personnel, in such capacities as a form of labour (i.e. survival prostitution). However, the informal economy within peacekeeping operation zones also includes gendered socio-economic exploitation of local women and children; for example, the human trafficking of vulnerable members of the local community into sex trafficking and sexual slavery (Rehn and Johnson Sirleaf 2002; Jennings, 4). Transactional sexual practices are also not privy to the contractual encounters between individuals within the formal and informal ‘sex sector’ and members of the peacekeeping deployment. In Paul Higate and Marsha Henry’s 2004 publication, Engendering (In)security in Peace Support Operations, the co-authors interviewed various male peacekeepers that were sexually involved with local women within peacekeeping operation zones. Higate and Henry examined the gendered dimensions of militarized environments on the civilian populations, in particular on the gendered experiences of women. The co-authors’ detail their remonstrance with the negation of research on the power dynamics between peacekeepers and local women within highly militarized post-conflict environments. These interviews revealed that peacekeepers saw the local women as intrinsically “sexually deviant,” and therefore engage in predatory behaviour. However, this narrative in due course disrupts the conventional notion of the members of the UN peacekeeping troops, majority men, as intrinsically masculine beings; instead, the men are portrayed as preyed upon during day-to-day activities by the local women within the operation zone. One may note that, “a peace mission has a pronounced economic, cultural and social impact on its host communities. In particular, the arrival of the UN provides opportunities for income generation for a variety of different individuals and groups,” (Higate and Henry, 485).  The perpetuation of negative representation of local women as ‘predatory’ can be understood as reinforced and shaped through the structures of exploitation established by the gendered dimensions of the peacekeeping economy.

In response to growing criticism, the United Nations has enacted and implemented ostensible solutions through policies and research for gendered-related predicaments. The post-conflict climate, women seldom engage in the formal decision-making in the peace-building process. This is a result of the manner in which, women within post-conflict contexts disproportionate to their male-counterparts, suffer from the lack of access to educational resources, as well as entrepreneurial skills-building; hence, augmenting their susceptibility to various forms of exploitation. It can be put forward that, the institutional response of the United Nation in regards to the evolving links, if not correlation, between the presence of the peacekeepers and the magnification of sectors affiliated to post-conflict human trafficking—ultimately, “demonstrates the persistence of ‘traditional’ gendered ideologies in peacekeeping,” (Jennings, 313).As a result, for example, Security Council resolution 1325 was ratified as a result of concerns as women seldom engage or participate in the formal decision making in the peace-building process. In addition, General Assembly 57/306 was enacted in response to the escalation of investigations on the sexual misconduct of the military and civilian members of the peacekeeping forces (Parrillo, 653). This is perhaps best evident in the United Nation’s ‘zero-tolerance’ policy against sexual exploitation and abuse; in which, any acts of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse within the operating zones are in violation of the international legal norms and standards for military and/or civilian personnel serving with the United Nations. It is prohibited conduct for UN peacekeeping personnel and contractual workers to engage transactional sex in peacekeeping areas; as it is imperative for civilian and uniformed personnel serving with the United Nations to uphold the procedures of professional and personal conduct. Indeed, UN personnel are contractually obligated to treat all members of the local population, in particular vulnerable segments of the communities such as women and children, with respect and dignity. Therefore, any actions of sexual exploitation or sexual abuse, or SEA, towards any residents within the operation zone are regarded as prohibited conduct for all UN military and civilian personnel. In the 2015 UN Women policy brief, Sexual Exploitation and Abuse: A Summary of the Latest Policy Recommendations, affirms the shortcomings of the policies implemented to ensure against sexual exploitation or sexual abuse; in which, “UN peacekeepers have been accused of sexual assault, rape, sex trafficking, organized prostitution rings, abduction, the making of child pornography, and sex in exchange for food, medicine, employment, and protection,” (United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, 2015). Such a state of affairs is well-understood as an encumbrance for favourable conflict transformation. The desideratum of the substantive inclusion of women in the process for post-conflict reconstruction is asserted in a series of UN Security Council resolutions. It can be stated that, the consideration of the gendered dimensions of the peacekeeping economies into practices and policies for the advancement and promotion of peace and security for local women within conflict and post-conflict zones is imperative for post-conflict stabilization efforts.

To summarize, peacekeeping missions are multifaceted and complex occurrences; however, in conflict-afflicted regions, peacekeeping operations inherently and fundamentally problematic endeavor. In particular, the introduction and execution of economic processes and capital inflows not native to the region by external parties by way of peacekeeping operations—creating the phenomenon known as the ‘peacekeeping economy.’ Indeed, there is much contention amongst political commentators for the manner in which peacekeeping operations expeditiously implement new socio-economic and political structures; notably, the operations may ostensibly encounter inadequate economic reforms, insufficient local-building capacities, as well a lack of expertise or consideration for the local context. This essay delved into the influences and ramifications of the presence of peacekeeping troops on the local market-economy of host societies within conflict and post-conflict contexts, such as the social polarization as a denouement of the new economic system. In particular, this research paper examined the consequences to the supplementary exchange and flow of capital, labour, and goods as a result of the withdrawal of the peacekeeping forces; as well as, the social polarization as a consequence of the division of labor within peacekeeping economies. Furthermore, this paper surveyed the gendered hierarchies within the economic system and sectors of the peacekeeping economy; in which, “the peacekeeping economy “system” is set up to continue to reward those who already have the most’,” (Jennings and Bøås, 289). This is perhaps evident through an examination of gendered power relations within the ‘sex sector’ of the peacekeeping economies in conflict-afflicted regions. In addition, this research surveyed the counter-narrative oftentimes postulated by UN military and/or civilian personnel as ostensibly vulnerable to the exploitation tactics of the local community members, particularly local women. It is also important to note that, in post-conflict contexts, the democratization procedures ostensibly implemented by the United Nations may serve as a catalyst to provide an augmentation of conflict within operation zones. Furthermore, outside of the establishment of organizational structures and facilities for the sake of the members of the military and/or civilian UN personnel—the effects of the inflation in the long-term local economic development are markedly negligible. In sum, ‘peacekeeping economies’ are a denouement of the socio-political and economic conditions that are further exacerbated by the presence of peacekeeping deployments in conflict and post-conflict regions.


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[1] This quote is from the 2016 co-publication, Challenges and Pitfalls of Peacekeeping Economies (Berber, Gilligan, Guardado, and Karim, 2).

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