Open Access

Managing rivalries - regional security institutions and democracy in Western Europe, South America, Southeast Asia and East Asia (2009)

in: Forschung DSF, Volume 22


"The absence of war between democracies is regarded as one of the few law-like correlations in international relations. The causation of this empirical phenomenon, however, remains contested; and the democratic peace in search of its cause. The project tries to fill this theoretical gap by arguing that inter-democratic institutions are causally responsible for the remarkable stability between democracies. Furthermore, the project contributes to the ongoing debate on the effects of international institutions. While most scholars have recently agreed that some institutions, due to their specific form, are more effective than others, it remains contested which form characteristics contribute to the peace-building effects of institutions. By combining liberal theories on the democratic peace and research on the effects of international institutions, the project is able to identify trans-national and trans-governmental networks as crucial features of inter-democratic institutions. The main hypothesis of the project asserts that a) these characteristics distinguish inter-democratic from traditional institutions between non-democratic states or with a mixed membership, and b) explain their distinct peace-building effect. The project is designed as a controlled case comparison. We analyse the level of stability of five pairs of states. With regard to comparability, we restrict our cases to the group of strategic rivals, i.e. pairs of states which look back to a history of conflict and violence and hence, are more prone to military confrontation than average dyads. From the sample of strategic rivals, we select dyads of endangered states which a) are located in highly institutionalized regional settings, and b) differ with regard to their political regime. We explore the peace-building effect of relevant regional security institutions on the level of stability of the following five dyads: France - Germany; Greece - Turkey; Indonesia - Malaysia and Argentina - Brazil as well as Argentina - Chile. Concerning the South American cases, we also compare the level of stability before and after the wave of democratisation in this region. In addition, we incorporate the relationship between Japan and South Korea into our research. This odd case of a democratic dyad of rivals, whose security relationship is only minimally institutionalized, allows us to assess alternative explanations of the democratic peace. The results of our research confirm our main hypothesis. Firstly, our work demonstrates that inter-democratic institutions differ with regard to their embedment in trans-national and trans-governmental networks. Secondly, we show that these institutional differences are responsible for the observed differences in the level of stability of our dyads. Moreover, our case selection allows us to undermine alternative explanations. The surprisingly low level of stability of the Japanese - South Korean dyad reinforces theoretical doubts concerning the liberal assumption that the democratic peace is caused by state properties. The high level of tensions between Greece and Turkey, both NATO member states, invalidates realist as well as neo-institutional explanations which attribute the effectiveness of institutions to the presence of a hegemonic leader or to their level of institutionalisation." (author's abstract)