Managing Arms in Peace Processes: Aspects of Psychological and Intelligence, 1-14.

Friday 8 December 2023

Raevsky, Andrei. 1996. Geneva: United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research. 

This source is a short publication written by Andrei Raevsky as part of the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research’s Disarmament and Conflict Resolution Project. The report focuses on the integration of intelligence collection activities as well as psychological operations, aimed at conveying specific messages to target audiences with the goal of influencing behaviour, in international peacebuilding efforts amidst the apex of UN humanitarian interventions in the 1990s. Despite its seemingly technical focus, Raevsky offers a basic introduction of the purpose of psychological operations (PSYOPS) based on first-hand testimony from civilian and military peacebuilding practitioners; perhaps most interestingly, he also addresses the hesitancy of UN authorities to engage in PSYOPS, which are oftentimes viewed as the responsibility of the media or the work of manipulative authoritarian regimes, and identifies this stigma as a driving factor behind the absence of systematic public information and strategic messaging campaigns in most peace operations. Raevsky also speaks to another pervasive misconception surrounding the employment of PSYOPS: though oftentimes conflated with military deception, PSYOPS are most effectives when they are truthful, with efforts by peacebuilders to employ manipulation or deceit only resulting in them being viewed as an untrustworthy actor at best and a potential combatant at worst. In this sense, psychological operations constitute the ‘voice’ of a peacebuilding force, serving to not only explain its aims and means but to also establish the foundations of dialogue with the local populace critical to constructing a relationship centred on trust and reciprocity.


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