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  • Full Terms & Conditions of access and use can be found athttp://www.tandfonline.com/action/journalInformation?journalCode=finp20

    Download by: [Archives & Bibliothques de l'ULB] Date: 17 November 2017, At: 06:50

    International Peacekeeping

    ISSN: 1353-3312 (Print) 1743-906X (Online) Journal homepage: http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/finp20

    Policy Entrepreneurship by InternationalBureaucracies: The Evolution of Public Informationin UN Peacekeeping

    Kseniya Oksamytna

    To cite this article: Kseniya Oksamytna (2017): Policy Entrepreneurship by InternationalBureaucracies: The Evolution of Public Information in UN Peacekeeping, InternationalPeacekeeping, DOI: 10.1080/13533312.2017.1395286

    To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13533312.2017.1395286

    Published online: 16 Nov 2017.

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  • Policy Entrepreneurship by InternationalBureaucracies: The Evolution of Public Information inUN PeacekeepingKseniya Oksamytna*

    Department of Politics and International Studies, University of Warwick, Coventry, UK

    ABSTRACTThe UN Secretariats role in the expansion of peacekeeping after the cold war isdebated. Different theoretical accounts offer competing interpretations:principalagent models and sociological institutionalism tend to emphasizethe Secretariats risk-averse behaviour; organizational learning scholarship andinternational political sociology find evidence of the Secretariats activism;constructivism analyses instances of both. I argue that the UN Secretariat canbe both enthusiastic and cautious about new tasks depending on thecircumstances and the issue area. For example, UN officials have been thedriving force behind the development of public information campaigns bypeacekeeping missions aimed at the local population. During the cold war, itwas not regarded as necessary for UN missions to communicate with thepublic in the area of operation: their interlocutors were parties to the conflictand the diplomatic community. With the deployment of the firstmultidimensional missions in the late 1980s and the early 1990s, UN staffrealized the need to explain the organizations role to the local populationand provide information about UN-supported elections. In promoting thisinnovation, they played the role of policy entrepreneurs. Theinstitutionalization of this innovation, however, was not an automatic processand required continuous advocacy by UN information staff.

    In the post-cold war period, UN peacekeeping operations have acquired along list of substantive and supporting tasks. The UN Secretariats role inthis expansion is debated. On the one hand, international bureaucracies areexpected to seek more tasks and responsibilities which translate into largerbudgets and greater influence. On the other hand, there is a perception thatthe Security Council has imposed additional tasks on the unwilling andunderfunded Secretariat. I argue that the UN Secretariat can be both enthu-siastic and cautious about new tasks depending on the circumstances andthe issue area. Sometimes, the Secretariat has sought an enlarged role for

    2017 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group

    CONTACT Kseniya Oksamytna [email protected]*Present address: Teaching Fellow in European & International Studies, Department of European & Inter-national Studies, Kings College London, 22 Kingsway, Virginia Woolf Building, London, WC2B 6NR, UK.

    INTERNATIONAL PEACEKEEPING, 2017https://doi.org/10.1080/13533312.2017.1395286

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    http://crossmark.crossref.org/dialog/?doi=10.1080/13533312.2017.1395286&domain=pdfmailto:[email protected]://www.tandfonline.com

  • peacekeepers; at other times, it has favoured traditional approaches. In theearly days of multidimensional peacekeeping, UN officials were eager toengage in new activities and expand their responsibilities. After the failuresin Somalia, Rwanda, and the former Yugoslavia, they became more circum-spect. Their activism also depends on the issue area. For example, theyhave been the driving force behind the emergence and the institutionalizationof public information campaigns organized by peacekeeping missions andaimed at the local population, which is the focus of this article.

    While public information is often seen as a supporting function, it hasimportant implications for the functioning, effectiveness, and financing ofUN peacekeeping operations. Information plays an important role in volatilepost-conflict environments and can both advance and endanger the peaceprocess. As the discussion of the Rwanda mission below demonstrates,local publics understanding of the limits of the mandate is essential for civi-lian protection. Moreover, peacekeeping missions can lose credibility by dis-seminating unconfirmed or incomplete information. For example, a publicinformation officer in the UN mission in Sierra Leone mistakenlyannounced that the capital was about to be overrun by rebels, which shat-tered the locals trust in the already struggling mission. Finally, the costsof running a radio station by the UN mission in Cambodia exceeded fourmillion US dollars, leading the stations chief to wonder whether it was amultimillion dollar folly.1 Besides the disputable assumption that it isappropriate for external actors to educate the local population in humanrights and democracy, public information in UN peacekeeping is a contro-versial matter. For UN public information staff, there is no doubt the issue isnot technical but highly political.2

    In this article, I analyse the role of UN Secretariat officials in promotingpublic information in peacekeeping by conceptualizing their efforts interms of policy entrepreneurship. I begin by discussing conflicting theoreti-cal perspectives on the role of international bureaucrats in the evolution oftheir organizations. I then argue that we can make a better sense of thiscomplexity by drawing on the literature on the emergence, diffusion, andinstitutionalization of norms and policies. From this literature, I derive alist of conditions under which international bureaucrats are likely to advo-cate successfully for new ideas and approaches. Turning to my case study, Iprovide a brief overview of how several cold war operations, as well as allpeacekeeping missions launched between the end of the cold war and themid-1990s,3 have addressed the issue of information. I focus on this period

    1Mei, Radio UNTAC, 21.2Interview with Ingrid Lehmann, FaceTime, May 2017.3This excludes small observer missions, such as the first UN Angola Verification Mission (UNAVEM I, 19891991) which consisted of 80 military observers and the UN Aouzou Strip Observer Group (UNASOG)which consisted of nine observers and six civilian staff, as well as the follow-on missions to UNPROFOR.

    2 K. OKSAMYTNA

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  • because it was formative for public information in peacekeeping. While allmissions between 1989 and 1995 did some public information work, innone of them did it reach the same scale and sophistication as in the mis-sions in Namibia and Cambodia. These two are studied in detail. I comparethe examples of Namibia and Cambodia with the missions in Rwanda andthe former Yugoslavia whose record in the field of information is lessimpressive: even committed advocates could not overcome inauspicious cir-cumstances they faced. While the operations in Somalia and Angola wouldhave also benefitted from such a programme, its absence can be attributedto a single main cause: the UN budgetary committees reluctance to auth-orize a UN radio station in Somalia in the former case and the Angolangovernments obstruction in the latter case. In Rwanda and the formerYugoslavia, multiple reasons for the deficiency existed, which makesthese cases worthy of in-depth study. Finally, I briefly discuss UN officialsefforts to institutionalize public information in peacekeeping throughpolicy, guidance, and posts.

    The article has a theoretical and an empirical section. In the theoreticalsection, I discuss the literature on policy entrepreneurship by internationalbureaucracies and address two main issues: the UNs Secretariat propensityfor bureaucratic expansion vs. risk-aversion and the conditions underwhich UN officials are likely to advocate successfully for new approaches.In the empirical section, I provide an overview of public information activi-ties in the 19891995 missions, compare the successful instances of inno-vation (Namibia and Cambodia) with the unsuccessful ones (Rwandaand the former Yugoslavia), and briefly look at the institutionalization ofpublic informati