A rich literature has developed focusing on the efficacy of peacekeeping operations (PKOs) in a temporal sense—asking whether the periods following a deployment are more peaceful or not. We know less about the efficacy of PKOs in a spatial sense. Can peacekeeping shape the geographic dispersion of particular episodes of violence? We posit that PKOs can contain conflict by decreasing the tactical advantage of mobility for the rebels, by obstructing the movement of armed actors, and by altering the ability for governments to seek and confront rebel actors. We investigate the observable implications using georeferenced conflict polygons from the Uppsala Conflict Data Program's (UCDP) Georeferenced Event Dataset (GED). Our findings confirm that PKOs tend to decrease movement in the conflict polygons, especially when robust forces are deployed and when rebel groups have strong ethnic ties. Our findings, on the one hand, imply that PKOs reduce the geographic scope of violence. On the other hand, PKOs may allow nonstate actors to gain strength and legitimacy and thus constitute an even greater future threat to the state whether some form of accord is not reached.
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