Violent conflict and regional institutionalization: a virtuous circle?
International institutions have attracted a great deal of attention from scholars of international relations. A cursory look at the universe of international institutions reveals immense diversity. Yet systematic analysis of institutional variation is lacking, and the sources and effects of this variation are not well understood. My dissertation examines variation in one important type of international institution, regional integration arrangements (RIAs), and its relationship with violent conflict. The theoretical chapter explores possible causal paths by which regional institutionalization affects intramural violent conflict. It points to specific institutional features that correspond to alternative causal mechanisms advanced in the extant literature. It then considers possible effects of intramural conflict on regional institutionalization. The next chapter elaborates on the concept of regional institutionalization, and presents an original dataset by coding twenty-five RIAs on this variable. This data set points to a considerable institutional variation and reveals a sizable gap between institutional design and implementation thereof. Statistical techniques and an in-depth investigation of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are employed to test the hypotheses generated in the theoretical chapter. The empirical results demonstrate that some institutional features are more effective than others in reducing intramural disputes, that variation in the institutionalization of these features has important consequences for violent conflict, and that implementation is crucial in this respect. They also suggest that both domestic and inter-state conflict hamper regional institutionalization. Finally, they uncover a mutually reinforcing feedback loop between peace and regional institutionalization, which provides empirical support for the "virtuous circle" thesis offered in this dissertation. My findings indicate that the realist dismissal of international institutions is unwarranted, but that institutionalists should pay closer attention to the manners by which international institutions alleviate international conflict and to the implementation of signed agreements. They also suggest that violent conflict operates as a powerful constraint rather than an incentive to regional institutionalization, which in turn indicates that institutionalized international cooperation is conditioned upon matters of high-politics. At the same time, these findings show that under conditions of peaceful coexistence, international institutions can produce otherwise unrealized benefits to their member-states.
School:The Ohio State University
School Location:USA - Ohio
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Keywords:regional institutionalization institutional design integraton arrangements militarized interstate disputes
Date of Publication:01/01/2004