The Journal of Politics

ARTICLES

International Institutions and Civil War Prevention

Johannes Karretha1 and Jaroslav Tira2

a1 University of Colorado Boulder

a2 University of Colorado Boulder

Abstract

We examine the potential of highly structured intergovernmental organizations (HSIGOs) to prevent the escalation of low-level, domestic armed conflicts in member states to civil wars. A state’s membership in HSIGOs alters the bargaining game between the government and rebels by increasing the costs of escalation (e.g., via sanctions) and decreasing the amount of benefits the state hoped to receive from future international cooperation. The anticipation of such consequences provides the government with an increased interest in settling the conflict before it escalates. This in turn also mitigates an important aspect of uncertainty associated with bargaining failure, including enhancing the credibility of commitments. Empirical analyses and follow-up tests of all domestic armed conflicts from 1945 to 2000 provide robust support for the hypothesized conflict-management function of HSIGO memberships.

Footnotes

  Johannes Karreth is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Political Science at the University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, CO 80309.

Jaroslav Tir is an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, CO 80309.

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