Multinational Rapid Response Mechanisms: From Institutional Proliferation to Institutional Exploitation, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Multinational Rapid Response Mechanisms

From Institutional Proliferation to Institutional Exploitation, 1st Edition

Edited by John Karlsrud, Yf Reykers


194 pages

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Hardback: 9781138543980
pub: 2019-01-24
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pub: 2018-12-19
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The track record of military rapid response mechanisms, troops on standby, ready to be deployed to a crisis within a short time frame by intergovernmental organizations, remains disappointing. Yet, many of the obstacles to multinational actors launching a rapid and effective military response in times of crisis are largely similar. This book is the first comprehensive and comparative contribution to explore and identify the key factors that hamper and enable the development and deployment of multinational rapid response mechanisms.

Examining lessons from deployments by the AU, the EU, NATO, and the UN in the Central African Republic, Mali, Somalia and counter-piracy in the Horn of Africa, the contributors focus upon the following questions: Was there a rapid response to the crises? By whom? If not, what were the major obstacles to rapid response? Did inter-organizational competition hinder responsiveness? Or did cooperation facilitate responsiveness? Bringing together leading scholars working in this area offers a unique opportunity to analyze and develop lessons for policy-makers and for theorists of inter-organizational relations.

This work will be of interest to scholars and students of peacebuilding, peacekeeping, legitimacy and international relations.


"This edited volume is one of the very few publications which offers a cross-institutional perspective on rapid response instruments which is largely missing in the literature. The book critically examines the many limitations rapid response is facing in practice without forgetting its importance for more effective international crisis response. It is a book which rightly deserves a place in the bookshelf of anyone interested in the intricacies of international crisis response." - Malte Brosig, University of Witwatersrand, South Africa

"This book provides a remarkably comprehensive overview of rapid response mechanisms, earning a place on the bookshelf of anybody interested in contemporary peace operations. The first chapters provide detailed, up-to-date analyses of the trajectory of policy initiatives in the African Union, the European Union, NATO, and the UN, similarly structured to facilitate comparison. Critically, however, the book also highlights that these organizations typically interact – not always positively, and sometimes in "dysfunctional competition" – in responding to contemporary crises, and that ad hoc arrangements have been common alternatives to the effective deployment of formal rapid response mechanisms." - Katharina Coleman, University of British Columbia, Canada

"Multilateral rapid military responses are often called for in conflict situations around the globe, yet always prove problematic. They require coordination of a considerable number of political and military actors at various levels, including interplay among international organizations such as the UN, NATO, the European Union and the African Union. By combining a common inter-organizational approach with a wide range of in-depth case studies, the contributors to this pioneering volume manage to uncover factors that hamper as well as facilitate rapid multilateral interventions. A veritable tour de force!" - Christer Jönsson, Lund University, Sweden

"Among the key questions for any military response are: what goes where, how big, and how fast? Speed saves lives when responding to crises. Curiously, rigorous studies of rapid response mechanisms are limited. This volume fills the gap. It provides a comprehensive, comparative approach to the topic from a list of top scholars in the field. Experts, practitioners, and students alike should read it. It is destined to be the key text on the topic for some time to come." - Adam Lupel, International Peace Institute, USA

Table of Contents

Introduction: Rapid response mechanisms—strengthening defense cooperation and saving strangers?

John Karlsrud and Yf Reykers


1. Tools in a toolbox: The African Union’s repertoire of mechanisms for addressing peace and security on the continent

Linda Akua Opongmaa Darkwa

2. EU Battlegroups: From standby to standstill

Yf Reykers

3. The NATO Response Force: Bellwether of NATO’s commitment to regional deterrence

Jens Ringsmose and Sten Rynning

4. United Nations rapid reaction mechanisms: Toward a global force on standby?

Joachim A. Koops and Alexandra Novosseloff


5. Multinational rapid response forces in the Democratic Republic of Congo—another example of winning battles, but losing the peace?

Thomas Mandrup

6. Rapid response and inter-organizational competition: Four international organizations, two key states, and the crisis in the Central African Republic

Martin Welz

7. Tangled up in glue: Multilateral crisis responses in Mali

John Karlsrud, Natasja Rupesinghe, and Denis M. Tull

8. EU-NATO inter-organizational relations in counter-piracy operations off the Horn of Africa

Ruxandra-Laura Boșilcă and Marianne Riddervold

9. Conclusion: Military rapid response—from institutional investment to ad hoc solutions

John Karlsrud and Yf Reykers

About the Editors

John Karlsrud is senior research fellow and manager for the Training for Peace program at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI), and external associate at the Centre for the Study of Globalisation and Regionalisation, University of Warwick, where he also earned his PhD. He has been a Fulbright fellow at the Centre on International Cooperation, New York University (NYU), and a visiting fellow at the International Peace Institute, New York. John works on peacekeeping, peacebuilding, and humanitarian issues. Books include Norm Change in International Relations (Routledge, 2016), and The Future of African Peace Operations: From the Janjaweed to Boko Haram (Zed Books, 2016, co-edited with Cedric de Coning and Linnea Gelot).

Yf Reykers is a post-doctoral research fellow at the Leuven International and European Studies Institute at KU Leuven, Belgium, where he also obtained his PhD in 2017. He has been a visiting scholar at the Center on International Cooperation at NYU and at Aarhus University. His research focuses on multinational military operations. He studies issues relating to the accountability of military interventions, rapid response mechanisms, and inter-organizational relations. His work has been published in journals including Contemporary Security Policy, European Security, International Peacekeeping, and Parliamentary Affairs.

About the Series

Global Institutions

The "Global Institutions Series" is edited by Thomas G. Weiss (The CUNY Graduate Center, New York, USA) and Rorden Wilkinson (University of Sussex, UK).

The Series has two "streams" identified by their covers:

  • Blue covers offer comprehensive, accessible, and informative guides to the history, structure, and activities of key international organizations, and introductions to topics of key importance in contemporary global governance. Recognized experts use a similar structure to address the general purpose and rationale for specific organizations along with historical developments, membership, structure, decision-making procedures, key functions, and an annotated bibliography and guide to electronic sources.
  • Red covers consist of research monographs and edited collections that advance knowledge about one aspect of global governance; they reflect a wide variety of intellectual orientations, theoretical persuasions, and methodological approaches.

Together these streams provide a coherent and complementary portrait of the problems, prospects, and possibilities confronting global institutions today.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
POLITICAL SCIENCE / International Relations / General
POLITICAL SCIENCE / International Relations / Treaties
POLITICAL SCIENCE / NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations)