The known knowns and known unknowns of peacekeeping data

Andrea Ruggeri has written two articles for a new special issue published by the International Peacekeeping journal and edited by Govinda Clayton on data about peacekeeping operations. Remco Zwetsloot, a former department MPhil IR student now at Yale, co-authored one of these articles.


There has recently been huge expansion in the availability of systematic data on peacekeeping missions. Data capturing the size and composition of peacekeeping operations has improved in depth and breadth, and is now complemented by a collection of disaggregated and geo-coded data. This means that rather than simply measuring the presence or absence of peacekeeping within a conflict or state, data is now available on a range of more specific indicators such as the location and response to specific peacekeeping events (cf. Dorussen and Ruggeri, this issue). The rapid growth in the range and quality of peacekeeping data has produced new insights, and offers greater opportunities for researchers attempting to analyse a range of policy-relevant questions. Yet despite the burgeoning collection of peacekeeping work, there remain areas in which understanding is weak or deficient. Moreover, while the community of peace scientists that regularly engage in quantitative research are often familiar with the existence of new (and existing) datasets, the broader community of peace and conflict researchers – in particular those from the policy world – are often unaware of the significant progress that has been made in this field. As a result, the potential for systematically collected and analysed peacekeeping data to have a real impact on policy debates often remains unrealized. This special data section was conceived as a means to address these inadequacies: firstly by providing a forum for those leading the development of quantitative peacekeeping data to communicate the current state-of-the-field to the broad academic and policy readership of International Peacekeeping; and secondly, as an opportunity for researchers to highlight some of the areas in which future data collection efforts should be focused.

Professor Andrea Ruggeri is Professor of Political Science and International Relations, Brasenose College