UN Mediation and the Rule of Law, Evidence from the Democratic Republic of Congo

with Sigrid Weber, Jonathan Weigel, Augustin Bergeron and Gabriel Tourek.

Abstract: How can the United Nations build trust in state institutions after conflict? Increasingly multi-dimensional peacekeeping operations aim to promote the rule of law and state institutions as a way to counteract low levels of civilian cooperation with the state. We evaluate the UN’s ability to foster cooperation between the government and civilians. We test the commonheld belief that the UN foster the rule of law by acting as a neutral arbiter. We argue that it is ideally placed to reassure civilians and pressure the government to enact state reforms, thus building trust in formal institutions of the state. We empirically find that participants in a survey experiment in the City of Kananga in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) that were randomly assigned to join townhall meetings with UN representatives are not more likely to trust or turn to formal state institutions. However, we show that UN townhall meetings diminish reliance on customary institutions and increase respondents’ view that the army and police are important institutions for the provision of security. Our work contributes to a small but growing body of work on the rule of law in post-conflict and war-torn societies.

Manuscript draft.