University of Essex
The UN reports that over the past 72 years more than one million women and men from 125 countries served in 71 peacekeeping missions. Coleman & Li point out that many countries, even large states such as the USA and Japan, only provide 'token' contributions. UN peacekeeping has become reliant on a small group of countries, such as India, Pakistan, and Nepal. Their analysis of the UN Token Force Dataset is complemented by evidence from 203 interviews with UN officials and peacekeepers as well as NATO/ISAF personnel. The integration of quantitative and qualitative evidence is a particular strength of this volume, as is the comparison of UN peacekeeping with NATO/ISAF operations and the 2003 US-led intervention in Iraq. The key argument is that token forces are an unintended consequence of the norm of multinationalism and enable contributing countries to keep an eye on the operation while minimising risks. The diversity of contributors contributes to the missions' legitimacy, while coalition builders also adapt to token forces by deploying them as staff officers or military observers. Coleman & Li focus exclusively on military personnel. It would have been interesting to complement the picture by examining police and civilian personnel as well as concurrent regional or even single-country missions. I would also have welcomed a more in-depth analysis into the impact of tokenism. Coleman & Li hint at possible interconnection with the goal to increase the number of female peacekeepers. Also, developed economies have reduced their contributions. Do token contributions allow these countries to continue wielding influence and keeping UN peacekeeping western-centred even though they primarily contribute money rather than personnel?