Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

First Advisor

Megan L. Shannon

Second Advisor

Jaroslav Tir

Third Advisor

Carew Boulding

Fourth Advisor

David H. Bearce

Fifth Advisor

Benjamin Teitelbaum


What explains why countries undergoing transitions to democracy are major contributors of personnel to United Nations peacekeeping operations? In recent decades, the provision of such personnel has been adopted largely by weak or nascent democracies. In the same period, the world has witnessed a decline in military coup activity. I argue that new democracies use peacekeeping to reduce the threat posed by the military during the years of transition and thereby increase the likelihood of democratic consolidation. In the short term such governments can credibly commit to maintaining the military since peacekeeping offers a variety of private benefits, while its revenues can be used to bolster the defense budget. In the long term peacekeeping can contribute to the reorientation of the military into a democratic institution through the socialization of troops to democratic norms, as well as the professionalization of the military as a subordinate institution. I therefore argue that governments in new democracies will pursue not only large, but also strategic contributions to peacekeeping missions in order to maximize these benefits.

I test these arguments using cross-national time series analysis of personnel contributions to peacekeeping operations from 1990 to 2011, as well as three illustrative cases: Argentina, Bangladesh, and Ghana. The analyses indicate that new democracies make larger contributions than other countries, and this effect is enhanced both where the military was more powerful at the time of transition and where greater economic revenues can be accrued to the military. Moreover, new democracies tend to send their troops to missions with more peacekeepers from strong democracies. The tasks involved in the mission influence deployments also, where more peacekeepers are sent to narrow, defense-focused missions if the country has a greater military legacy, and to civil-oriented multidimensional missions when facing greater domestic economic pressure. These findings indicate that new democracies make a number of strategic decisions that reflect varied motivations to deploy military personnel to peacekeeping missions in pursuit of democratic consolidation.