Stopping war before it starts
This thesis examines the United Nations’ efforts to prevent civil wars. I first determine the signals that indicate if a country is likely to go into civil war. I then examine whether the United Nations is successful in identifying countries at risk of civil war and utilizing the most appropriate prevention methods to stop civil war before it starts. Chapter one introduces the UN’s role in conflict prevention as an international organization, defines pertinent terms and includes a literature review. The literature review reveals that there is a dearth of research on conflict prevention, relative to other aspects of conflict management. Chapter two goes into further detail about the UN’s role, what it looks for when determining when to get involved in a country that appears to be heading towards civil war, and the methods it uses to prevent those wars from escalating. I have chosen to use a comparative case study of Burkina Faso and Burundi (1991-2016) to determine if the UN is successful in using its prevention methods. Chapter three focuses on the case study Burkina Faso, a case in which the UN was able to prevent civil war. In contrast, chapter four focuses on Burundi, a case in which the UN was not able to prevent civil war. The thesis concludes with an analysis of why the UN was successful in one case but not the other, as well as suggestions for how the UN can improve upon these methods in the future. I have found that while the UN is successful in identifying the situations in which it needs to get involved in to prevent civil war, it cannot be the only international organization to give aid. It seems that the UN gave a substantial amount of economic aid to Burundi in an attempt to prevent civil war; however, because other international organizations did not give the same amount of economic assistance, there was still civil war.