Cross-Cultural Considerations in Complex Peace Operations


  • Robert A. Rubinstein

    1. Robert A. Rubinstein is Professor of Anthropology and of International Relations and Senior Research Associate of the Alan K. Campbell Public Affairs Institute at The Maxwell School of Syracuse University, 410 Maxwell Hall, Syracuse, N.Y. 13244. He also serves as director of the Program on the Analysis and Resolution of Conflicts (PARC) at Syracuse University. Email:
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Peace operations create the potential for culturally-based problems in interactions among different organizational actors and with local populations. Because it is impossible to catalog all of the different groups and cultures that may participate in peace operations, it is necessary to develop a general approach to culture and peacekeeping. The author presents a view of culture as a model for understanding and action, and describes some ways in which cultural models are manifest. Specific cultural differences between military and humanitarian participants in peace operations are discussed, as are areas of potential cultural concern for interaction with local populations. Suggestions about approaching these cross-cultural considerations are offered.