Democratic Communities and Third-Party Conflict Management

We explore how the domestic political institutions of states in the neighborhood of international disputants affect the incentives for third-party conflict management. Existing scholarship has argued that as the number of democracies in the international system increases, disputants are more likely to want and find third-party conflict management. We propose two alternative explanations for the connection between democratization and changing patterns of conflict management that consider more localized mechanisms. We posit that neighboring democratic leaders, with stronger incentives to deliver public benefits, will be more willing to push for their involvement as third parties, particularly when the disputes are sufficiently salient to affect regional security dynamics yet not so difficult that protracted engagement is likely. We also posit that, since international organizations (IOs) tend to be more engaged in democratic communities, IOs will be more active peacemakers in disputes, especially intractable and violent ones, that occur in heavily democratic regions. Using event history analysis of the Issue Correlates of War (ICOW) data, we find support for these arguments. Disputants with many democratic neighbors are more likely to experience third-party conflict management by democracies—this effect is increasing in the salience and decreasing in the intractability of the dispute—and IOs—this effect is increasing in the intractability of the dispute. Counter to expectations based on a logic of norm diffusion, third-party conflict management is not more likely among democracies that are in dispute with each other nor when the proportion of democracies in the international system increases.