Small and Far Between: Peacekeeping Economies in South Sudan

New open access article by Øystein H. Rolandsen in Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding. This work was supported by the Research Council of Norway (RCN) under the NORGLOBAL programme.


The massive expenditure on UN peacekeeping missions combined with a significant commitment of personnel and infrastructure creates ‘peacekeeping economies’ within host societies. We need to understand when and how peacekeeping economies are created and the kinds of factors that mitigate their occurrence, size and impact. Previous research indicates an overall tendency of UN missions to minimize involvement in host communities’ economies, and considerable variation in the level of economic impact. Especially in insecure environments, the modalities of UN peacekeeping limit the level of economic interaction with host societies. South Sudan is a case in point. Annually about 10,000 people are employed and $1 billion on average spent on peacekeeping in South Sudan. However, at both the macro and micro levels the economic impact of peacekeeping has been overshadowed by the concurrent influx of oil revenue. Oil money has created a boom in the larger towns that dwarfs the impact of peacekeeping activities. The lack of domestic markets and skilled labour reduces opportunities for the missions, and their foreign personnel, to engage in economic transactions with South Sudanese.


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