˗ Work in progress ˗
How personal bonds and ‘informal spaces’
facilitate cooperation in international peacekeeping interventions.
Evidence from Haiti.
Dr. Anne Lange
Keywords: international peacekeeping, cooperation, everyday, Haiti
Inter-organizational cooperation is a key concern in international peacekeeping
interventions. Cooperation between UN organizations, national troop contingents,
diplomatic missions, donor agencies and international NGOs is important because it can
ensure coherence in objectives and strategies, reduce duplications of programs and projects,
and enable capacity-sharing, often under the condition of chronic resource scarcity.
However, previous analyses suggest that coordination among these organizations is rarely
implemented in practice because political and turf struggles tend to sour
inter-organizational relations. In this article, I argue that cooperation works better than
is generally assumed because members of the various organizations forge personal bonds
that facilitate cooperation at the informal level. Based on field research and interviewing
in Haiti in 2014 and 2015, I demonstrate that international intervention professionals build
inter-personal trust, mutually monitor their activities and mediate conflict informally
in regular and frequent face-to-face meetings. These meetings often take place in select
‘informal spaces’ such as restaurants and recreational activities. Informal meetings better
facilitate open but discreet discussions, because access can be restricted, they are less
scripted and they are not recorded. Further, I show that in informal meetings personal
reputations for credibility and loyalty, as well as familiarity with each other’s lives become
important. These results contribute to emerging research on the ‘everyday’ of international
interventions worldwide. They expand the focus of this body of literature from descriptions
of the everyday practices, habits and attitudes of international intervention professionals
to explanations as to why and how they matter for the implementation of peacekeeping.