Issues in third-party intervention research and the role of destruction in conflict

Joel Potter, John L. Scott


Research on third-party intervention into conflict has accelerated in recent years. Although some studies have explicitly assumed that third parties only value peace, recent theory has modeled parties to a conflict more flexibly. In addition, empirical results provide evidence that third-party motives are more complex than straightforward peacemaking. In particular, although the United Nations attempts peacemaking missions, evidence suggests that United Nations interventions prolong conflict. We sample the literature on interventions and offer directions for further research. On the empirical side, we suggest that third-party research should exploit recent applications of statistical modeling that unravel the complexity created by the fact that the decision to intervene in a conflict may depend on the same factors that contribute to the duration of the conflict. On the theoretical side, in contrast to previous studies, we suggest modeling the destruction that armed conflict causes as a choice variable.


Third-party intervention; United Nations; peacekeeping; destruction

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