CSS Research and Policy Seminar with Stephen Moncrief

The CSS team met virtually as part of the Research and Policy Seminar series to discuss a stand-alone article by Post-doctoral Fellow Stephen Moncrief, based on his dissertation research completed at Yale University. The article, “Statebuilding in Haiti,” discusses the evolving nature of UN missions from peacekeeping operations to statebuilding projects. Moncrief argues statebuilding projects are more ambitious in nature. If successful, they could resolve sources of political instability by creating more stable modes and institutions of social, economic, and political governance. However, they are also more difficult to implement, and they inevitably generate political backlash among groups that risk losing out to the new state institutions and their empowered civilian and military leadership. As a result, these missions often create prolonged stalemates and quagmires rather than stable modes of governance. Accordingly, the missions themselves often become very long.

To test this argument, Moncrief relies on impressive qualitative evidence on MINUSTAH, the UN mission to Haiti, drawn from archival and other sources, covering the period from 2004 to 2017. The evidence provides material for in-depth process tracing of the argument’s mechanisms. The evidence also clarifies the mission’s objectives, its impact on stakeholder groups, and its results. The strengths of the article are its wealth of evidence and its additional insights about UN missions more generally that are grounded in close and perceptive observations of actual missions in places such as Africa and the Caribbean. Participants discussed the project’s strengths and also identified a range of suggestions for how to improve its framing and theoretical argument. CSS looks forward to the article’s publication and to the continued development of Moncrief’s work on UN statebuilding.

Leave a Reply