Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

Robert Blair

Robert Blair

Joukowsky Family Assistant Professor of Political Science and International and Public Affairs


Robert Blair’s research focuses on peacekeeping and statebuilding after civil war, with an emphasis on rule of law and security institutions. He has conducted fieldwork on these and related topics in Colombia, Liberia and Cote d’Ivoire, and has worked in various capacities for the UN Office of Rule of Law and Security Institutions, the Political Instability Task Force, Freedom House and the Small Arms Survey. He holds an MA and PhD in Political Science from Yale University and a BA in Education Studies and Comparative Literature from Brown University. His research has been published in the American Political Science Review and other venues.

For further details see http://robblair.net.


How to restore citizens’ trust and cooperation with newly-reformed security institutions in the wake of civil war? How to establish the rule of law after years of state absence or predation? How (and whether) to promote compliance with state laws when they conflict with local norms, rules and customs? My research on these and related questions includes (1) lab-in-the-field experiments on gender and ethnic discrimination in the Liberian National Police; (2) a panel survey and list experiment on the impact of UN peacekeeping on rule of law in Liberia; and (3) a randomized controlled trial evaluating mechanisms to strengthen the role of Police Inspectors in providing access to security and justice in rural Colombia.

For further details see http://robblair.net/research/.


“Establishing the Rule of Law in Weak and War-torn States: Evidence from a Field Experiment with the Liberian National Police” (with Sabrina Karim and Benjamin Morse). American Political Science Review, forthcoming 

“International Intervention and the Rule of Law after Civil War: Evidence from Liberia.” International Organization, forthcoming

“Teaching Trump: Why Comparative Politics Makes Students More Optimistic About US Democracy” (with Hannah Baron and Shelby Grossman). PS: Political Science & Politics, forthcoming

“The Impact of International Interventions to Empower Women in Post-Conflict Countries: Lab-in-the-Field Evidence from the Liberian National Police” (with Kyle Beardsley, Michael Gilligan and Sabrina Karim). International Studies Quarterly 62:3 (2018): 618-631 (link) 

“Predicting Local Violence: Evidence from a Panel Survey in Liberia” (with Christopher Blattman and Alexandra Hartman). Journal of Peace Research 54:2 (2017): 298-312

“Public Health and Public Trust: Survey Evidence from the Ebola Virus Disease Epidemic in Liberia” (with Benjamin Morse and Lily Tsai). Social Science & Medicine 172 (2017): 89-97 (link)

“On the Rights of Warlords: Legitimate Authority and Basic Protection in War-Torn Societies” (with Pablo Kalmanovitz). American Political Science Review 110:3 (2016): 428-440

“Patterns of Demand for Non-Ebola Health Services During and After the Ebola Outbreak: Panel Survey Evidence from Monrovia, Liberia” (with Karen Grepin, Benjamin Morse andLily Tsai). BMJ Global Health 1 (2016): e000007

“How to Promote Order and Property Rights under Weak Rule of Law? An Experiment in Changing Dispute Resolution Behavior through Community Education” (with Christopher Blattman and Alexandra Hartman). American Political Science Review 108:1 (2014): 100-120

For an up-to-date list of publications, working papers and policy reports see http://robblair.net/writing/.


Spring 2018 
POLS2590: “Quantitative Research Methods.” Graduate seminar.

Fall 2017 
POLS1820X: “Democratic Erosion.” Undergraduate seminar. 
POLS1440: "Security, Governance and Development in Africa." Undergraduate lecture.

News|Recent News

Teaching Democratic Erosion (written by Jeff Colgan and Rob Blair)

February 28, 2017 Duck of Minerva

Political Science professors Jeff Colgan and Rob Blair in Duck of Minerva, "Although we do not wish to professionally engage in partisan politics, as scholars we are alarmed by Trump’s willingness to transgress long-standing norms of democracy, tolerance and civility."


All News