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Mitigating election violence locally: UN peacekeepers’ election-education campaigns in Côte d’Ivoire


Smidt, Hannah (2020). Mitigating election violence locally: UN peacekeepers’ election-education campaigns in Côte d’Ivoire. Journal of Peace Research, 57(1):199-216.

Abstract

False information, rumours and hate speech can incite violent protest and rioting during electoral periods. To counter such disinformation, United Nations peacekeeping operations (PKOs) routinely organize election-education events. While researchers tend to study how PKOs affect armed group and state behaviour, this study shifts the focus to civilians. It argues that PKOs’ election education reduces violent protest and rioting involving civilians during electoral periods via three pathways. First, learning about PKOs’ electoral security assistance during election-education events may convince people that political opponents cannot violently disturb elections, thereby mitigating fears of election violence. Second, election-education events provide politically relevant information that can strengthen political efficacy and people’s ability to make use of peaceful political channels. Finally, peace messages during election-education events can change people’s calculus about the utility and appropriateness of violent behaviour. Together, these activities mitigate fears, reduce political alienation and counter civilians’ willingness to get involved in violence. To test these expectations, I combine survey data on people’ perceptions and attitudes, events data on violent protest and rioting, and a novel dataset on local-level election-education events carried out by the PKO in Côte d’Ivoire before four elections held between 2010 and 2016. The results show that when the PKO is perceived to be an impartial arbiter, its election-education events have violence-mitigating effects at the individual and subnational levels.

Abstract

False information, rumours and hate speech can incite violent protest and rioting during electoral periods. To counter such disinformation, United Nations peacekeeping operations (PKOs) routinely organize election-education events. While researchers tend to study how PKOs affect armed group and state behaviour, this study shifts the focus to civilians. It argues that PKOs’ election education reduces violent protest and rioting involving civilians during electoral periods via three pathways. First, learning about PKOs’ electoral security assistance during election-education events may convince people that political opponents cannot violently disturb elections, thereby mitigating fears of election violence. Second, election-education events provide politically relevant information that can strengthen political efficacy and people’s ability to make use of peaceful political channels. Finally, peace messages during election-education events can change people’s calculus about the utility and appropriateness of violent behaviour. Together, these activities mitigate fears, reduce political alienation and counter civilians’ willingness to get involved in violence. To test these expectations, I combine survey data on people’ perceptions and attitudes, events data on violent protest and rioting, and a novel dataset on local-level election-education events carried out by the PKO in Côte d’Ivoire before four elections held between 2010 and 2016. The results show that when the PKO is perceived to be an impartial arbiter, its election-education events have violence-mitigating effects at the individual and subnational levels.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Political Science
Dewey Decimal Classification:320 Political science
Scopus Subject Areas:Social Sciences & Humanities > Sociology and Political Science
Social Sciences & Humanities > Safety Research
Social Sciences & Humanities > Political Science and International Relations
Uncontrolled Keywords:political science and international relations, sociology and political science, safety research civic education, Côte d’Ivoire, elections, election violence, peacekeeping
Language:English
Date:January 2020
Deposited On:20 May 2020 07:48
Last Modified:29 Jul 2020 15:12
Publisher:Sage Publications
ISSN:0022-3433
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1177/0022343319884993

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