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Emergence, Dynamics and Institutionalisation of UN-Nato Cooperation in Kosovo and Afghanistan

Ivan Dinev Ivanov

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International organisations (IOs) like UN, NATO and EU have been tasked with cooperating to provide numerous services that include security, distribution of humanitarian relief and management of reconstruction efforts. These joint operations have triggered the proliferation of scholarship on inter-organisational cooperation with competing theoretical explanations about the factors that facilitate and impede such cooperation. This article compares and contrasts the emergence, dynamics and institutionalisation of such cooperation involving the United Nations (UN) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) in two of the organisations’ largest missions – in Kosovo and Afghanistan. It argues that in all stages – emergence, dynamics and institutionalisation – cooperation is more successful when it emerges or is endorsed by officers operating in the field, when IOs overcome bureaucratic, resource and environmental constraints for cooperation and finally when the IOs choose a decentralised or informal way to manage their relationship. The article advances the argument that inter-organisational cooperation is more likely to emerge informally among the field staff because it is more responsive to the surrounding environment and tends to overcome differences of organisational culture in order to divide tasks based on their expertise. To this end, the cases of Kosovo and Afghanistan validate the argument that formal and imposed cooperation driven solely by member-states and IO headquarters is insufficient to overcome bureaucratic, resource and environmental constraints. Similarly, centralised attempts to institutionalise inter-governmental cooperation cannot be effective unless they take into account the preferences of field staff, IO partners and mediators.

Keywords: the United Nations, NATO, inter-organisational cooperation, Kosovo Force (KFOR) International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), Kosovo, Afghanistan


Bibliography: Ivanov, Ivan Dinev: Emergence, Dynamics and Institutionalisation of UN-Nato Cooperation in Kosovo and Afghanistan, ERIS, 3-2015, pp. 68-85.