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The Peacemaking Effectiveness of Regional Organisations

June 6, 2011, 9:23 p.m.


The paper by Laurie Nathan, The Peacemaking Effectiveness of Regional Organizations, looks at the role international institutions play in creating and maintaining peace and stability within their region.  The paper looks at what the incentives of an institution are and the effect this has on the outcomes achieved in the peace process.  The paper states that great variations were seen between the institutions looked at and were deeply influenced by "historical, geographical, political, and economic circumstances".  Each institution is shaped by the states that encompass it, thereby influencing its effectiveness.

Between 2005 and 2010 the Crisis States Research Centre (CSRC) co-ordinated a research project on the peacemaking role and impact of regional organisations within their respective geographical domains. There were two primary questions: whether these organizations contributed to the prevention and resolution of violent conflict between and within their member states; and what factors account for their effectiveness or lack of effectiveness in this regard. The project did not examine the role of regional organisations in responding to extraregional threats or in mounting peace operations beyond their own territory.

Our overall conclusion is that an organisation’s peacemaking effectiveness depends largely on whether its members want the organisation to be effective and on whether they have the political trust and cohesion that are needed to make it effective in the realm of peace and security. More specifically, we distinguish between the internal and external logic of regional peacemaking as separate requirements for sustained effectiveness. The external logic, which is captured by liberal institutionalist theory, refers to the interests and objective conditions that make communal peacemaking a beneficial venture in the assessment of member states. The internal logic, which is captured by constructivist theory, refers to the normative congruence among these states that enables them to engage in close political co-operation in order to prevent and end conflict. In the absence of common values, member states are unable to resolve or transcend their major disputes, build trust and cohesion, develop regional policies and act with common purpose in crisis situations. Whereas the external logic provides the motivation for the peacemaking mandate, the internal logic is the glue that allows member states to reach agreement on the mandate and to implement it. The internal and external logic are necessary conditions for sustained effectiveness but whether they are sufficient conditions is an open question.

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