UN Security Concil visit to Goma

When Do Civil-War Parties Heed the UN? Findings from the IPI Security Council Compliance Database

A UN Security Council delegation visits the Democratic Republic of the Congo, October 6, 2013. UN Photo/Sylvain Liechti.[/caption] The Security Council issued 1,557 demands to conflict parties in civil wars in the 15 years following the end of the Cold War, through its resolutions. Based on a statistical analysis of IPI’s Security Council Compliance Database, this report shows that while the levels of compliance with these demands varied, there was a slight increase in compliance over time.

What factors influence the likelihood that conflict parties will comply? The authors find the following:

  • Conflict parties are less likely to heed the Security Council’s demands if there is an ongoing civil war in a neighboring country; if there are significant sources of lootable natural resources; or if there has been a negative political shock, such as a shift toward autocracy.
  • Conflict parties are more likely to comply with the Council’s demands if a multidimensional peacekeeping operation is present in the country.
  • However, demands made in the presence of a traditional peacekeeping operation, alongside a current or previously imposed sanctions regime, or following a Security Council field mission tend to be associated with lower odds of compliance.
  • Interestingly, a lack of continuous consensus among the permanent members of the Security Council is positively associated with compliance. The authors hypothesize that the shift from great-power disagreement to consensus can send a powerful signal to spoilers to heed their demands.

The authors conclude that it is particularly important for the Security Council to design its conflict management strategy with a strong basis in reality on the ground. They also warn against the spillover effects of persistent noncompliance with its demands across conflicts. Nonetheless, they suggest that the Council should not choose inaction over taking a principled stance when needed, even if it fears aggressors will not abide by its demands.

Searchable database
A database of all demands made in Security Council resolutions addressing civil wars between 1989 and 2003, providing detailed justifications and source references for all codes based on the coders’ assessment.

Download database (October 2012)
Download coding manual that contains methodology and coding notes
Download the “Guidelines for Assessing Compliance with Security Council Resolutions”

Data maps and graphs
These interfaces
show various trends and characteristics of compliance with Security Council resolutions in civil wars from 1989 to 2003.

Compliance Map
Trends in Compliance
Carrots and Sticks
Field Presence

**Please note that many of the graphs presented here double as filters, so feel free to navigate to whatever subset of data you’re interested in. If you find yourself lost and need to reset the page, you can find a reset button at the bottom of the page that looks like this: .