Sown for peace? International organizations and interstate conflict
Leskiw, Christopher Scott
A factor that has long been identified as promoting peace between states is intergovernmental organizations (IGOs). From Kantian musings to Wilsonian idealism, international organizations have been seen as mechanisms for states to reach out of their inherent confines of self-interest and militant propensities to realize peace. The extant literature paints IGOs with a broad brush, and treats IGOs as if they all have the same ability to impact states’ conflict propensities. This analysis, however, posits that the type of IGO has a significant relationship with the prevention and de-escalation of militarized conflict. Through the conduct of this research, I uncover a number of substantive findings. First, I have upheld and extended the finding that shared memberships reduce chances of militarized disputes. Second, I have shown that universal economic IGOs are especially well positioned to keep dyads out of conflicts. On the systems level, I have discovered evidence that supports the theory that IGOs construct a normative context of peace. As the rules of the game of international politics become increasingly institutionalized in the form of more shared IGO memberships, the norm of peace becomes stronger. I explore new depths to the relationship between IGOs and peace. I find that regional military, political and economic IGOs significantly reduce the chances of a dyad already in a militarized dispute from escalating to war. Moreover, I find these same organizations reduce the likelihood of dyads having successively more severe conflict as time passes. These IGOs not only have the mechanisms for conflict resolution, but they maintain the norm of peaceful state relations. Regional and universal economic organizations are found to be especially effective in ending a dispute peacefully. Regional political IGOs shorten the duration of disputes, while regional economic institutions tend to lengthen the duration of the peace that follows disputes. Thus, merely counting the sheer number of memberships, and not implementing an IGO typology, at best misses out on the relationships of most interest and at worst mischaracterizes the impact of IGOs on peace.