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Democratic International Governmental Organizations Promote Peace

  • Jon Pevehouse (a1) and Bruce Russett (a2)

The Kantian peace research program has produced generally robust results on the role of democracy and international trade in reducing the risk of international conflict. Yet a key theoretical linkage in the Kantian argument, that of international governmental organizations (IGOs) to peace, has proved less robust and more problematic. We propose a new theoretical perspective focusing on the contributions of a particular kind of IGO—that composed largely of democracies—to peaceful conflict resolution through aiding credible commitments, dispute settlement, and socialization to peaceful behavior. A set of statistical tests provides strong support for our hypotheses that such densely democratic IGOs are far more likely to engender peaceful relations between members than are more homogenous IGOs. This is true when controlling for regime type, interdependence, and several realist-oriented influences. The peace-inducing influences affect both democratic and nondemocratic member states.We thank Robert Axelrod, Erik Gartzke, Edward Mansfield, Thomas McCarthy, and Nicholas Sambanis for comments, the Ford Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Research Foundation for financial support, and Ann Fishback and Courtney Hillebrecht for research assistance. All our data and computations will be available at 〈〉 at the time of publication.

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