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Joining the Legs of the Kantian Tripod For Peace

:
Regime Type and Appeals for UN I nvolvement
in I nternational Crises, 1945-1994




Holger Schmidt
Ph.D. Candidate
Columbia University
Dept. of Political Science
420 West 118th Street
New York, NY 10027
hs265@columbia.edu









Paper prepared for delivery at the Annual Meeting of the American Political
Science Association, Boston, MA, August 29 - September 1, 2002.

[Comments welcome, but please do not cite without author’s permission]
1
1. Introduction
For more than two centuries, liberal theorists of international relations have stressed the pacifying
effects of democracy and international organizations. Along with economic interdependence,
these two elements constitute the legs of the “Kantian tripod for peace,” whose role in world
politics has been the subject of extensive empirical investigation.
1
Although the literature
examining the effects of democracy and international organizations on states’ dispute behavior is
vast, however, the question of how these two variables affect each other has received
comparatively little attention to date.
2

The relative neglect of this issue is somewhat surprising given that liberal arguments
about the effects of democracy on states’ propensity for acting through international
organizations have been in circulation for a very long time. Perhaps most famously, Immanuel
Kant himself suggested in his essay on “Perpetual Peace” that democracies are especially likely
to follow international law and form what Kant called a foedus pacificum, or pacific federation.
3

Echoing Kant, contemporary liberals contend that democracies are more prone than other types
of states to form so-called “pluralistic security communities,” in which realpolitik dynamics are
replaced by feelings of mutual trust and identification.
4
In addition, democracies are also said to

1
For a comprehensive treatment, see Bruce Russett and John R. Oneal, Triangulating Peace:
Democracy, Interdependence, and International Organizations (New York: W. W. Norton,
2001).
2
Again, perhaps the most comprehensive discussion is provided by Russett and Oneal,
Triangulating Peace, esp. chp. 6.
3
Immanuel Kant, “Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch,” in Kant: Political Writings, ed.
Hans Reiss (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991).
4
Among others, see Thomas Risse-Kappen, Cooperation among Democracies: The European
Influence on U.S. Foreign Policy (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1995), esp. 29-34;
and Bruce Russett, “A Neo-Kantian Perspective: Democracy, Interdependence, and
International Organizations in Building Security Communities,” in Security Communities in
Comparative and Historical Perspective, ed. Emanuel Adler and Michael Barnett (Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 1998).
2
be more likely to utilize international organizations to manage and resolve those disputes that do
arise among them.
5

Although widely accepted, the last of these claims in particular has yet to be confirmed
through rigorous empirical research. While several important studies have investigated the
connection between regime type and third-party involvement, most do not distinguish between the
role played by international organizations and other types of agents, such as allied or hegemonic
states.
6
Others address the synergistic effects of democracy and international organizations
directly but focus their attention on the joint effect of these variables on dispute onset rather than
dispute management.
7
And the few studies that do examine the behavior of democracies toward
international organizations once a conflict is underway have not only yielded rather mixed results
but also suffer from significant shortcomings in terms of their research design.
8
Finally, virtually
no attention has been paid to whether the stipulated relationship between democracy and
disputants’ resort to international organizations is monadic or dyadic in nature (or both).
This paper seeks to contribute to filling this gap in the literature through a quantitative
examination of states’ attitudes toward United Nations (UN) involvement in a set of 128
international crises between 1945 and 1994. The results of this analysis strongly support the
liberal view that democratic states have a special propensity for utilizing international

5
Russett and Oneal, Triangulating Peace, 164.
6
Among others, see William J. Dixon, “Democracy and the Management of International
Conflict,” Journal of Conflict Resolution 37, no. 1 (1993); Dixon, “Dyads, Disputes, and the
Democratic Peace,” in The Political Economy of War and Peace, ed. Murray Wolfson
(Boston: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1998); Gregory A. Raymond, “Democracies, Disputes,
and Third-Party Intermediaries,” Journal of Conflict Resolution 38, no. 1 (1994); and
Raymond, “Demosthenes and Democracies: Regime Types and Arbitration Outcomes,”
International Interactions 22, no. 1 (1996).
7
Bruce Russett, John R. Oneal, and David R. Davis, “The Third Leg of the Kantian Tripod for
Peace: International Organizations and Militarized Disputes, 1950-85,” International
Organization 52, no. 3 (1998); and Russett and Oneal, Triangulating Peace.
3
organizations when engaged in a militarized confrontation. Even after controlling for the
potentially confounding impact of a series of other variables (including dispute severity, Security
Council membership, and relative power), democracies are significantly more likely to refer a
dispute to the UN than are non-democracies. Somewhat unexpectedly, however, the effects of
democracy appear to be monadic rather than dyadic in nature. Whereas democracies in general
are more prone to resort to the UN than non-democracies, this tendency declines as their
opponents become more democratic, raising interesting questions about the nature of the causal
nexus between regime type and international organization involvement.
The paper is organized as follows. The next section offers a brief summary and critique
of existing empirical research on the subject. Section 3 explains the research design employed in
the empirical part of the paper and presents the main hypotheses to be tested. Section 4
discusses factors other than regime type that can be expected to influence states’ decisions
concerning whether to seek UN involvement and formulates a set of propositions about the likely
effects of these control variables. Section 5 describes the dataset used in this study and
addresses issues of operationalization and measurement. Section 6 presents my main findings.
Section 7 concludes by highlighting some limitations of the present study and identifying possible
directions for future research.


2. Existing Studies
To date, there are only two major empirical studies that directly examine the link between
democracy and the tendency of conflict actors to employ international organizations. The first

8
See Section 2 below for details on this point.
4
one is William Coplin and Martin Rochester’s 1972 analysis of the conflict management role
played by the UN, the League of Nations, the Permanent Court of International Justice, and the
International Court of Justice.
9
Examining a sample of 121 dyadic disputes considered by at least
one of these four institutions over the time period 1920-1968, Coplin and Rochester found only
limited support for liberal arguments regarding the relationship between regime type and resort to
international organizations. While cases before the two courts were substantially more likely to
involve contestants with “open” (i.e., democratic) political systems, no such association was
found for disputes considered by the UN and only a very slight one for conflicts addressed by the
League of Nations.
10

Similarly ambiguous findings emerge from the second major study of the subject. As part
of a larger project analyzing the crisis behavior of democratic states, Joseph Hewitt and Jonathan
Wilkenfeld explored the relationship between regime type and the involvement and effectiveness
of international organizations.
11
Covering the seven decades between the end of World War I
and 1988, Hewitt and Wilkenfeld’s research suggests that democracy has no significant impact
on either the effectiveness or the involvement of global security organizations (i.e., the League of
Nations and the UN) in international crises. Democracy also appears to have no positive effect
on the involvement of regional security organizations such as NATO or the OAS, although
regional bodies tend to be more effective in crises that involve a high proportion of democratic
actors.
12


9
William D. Coplin and J. Martin Rochester, “The Permanent Court of International Justice, the
International Court of Justice, the League of Nations, and the United Nations: A Comparative
Empirical Survey,” American Political Science Review 66, no. 2 (1972).
10
See ibid., 534.
11
J. Joseph Hewitt and Jonathan Wilkenfeld, “Democracies in International Crisis,”
International Interactions 22, no. 2 (1996).
12
Ibid., 136-38.
5
Although highly interesting and suggestive, both Coplin and Rochester’s work and Hewitt
and Wilkenfeld’s more recent analysis suffer from a number of shortcomings and limitations.
First, both studies fail to control for the potentially confounding impact of variables other than
regime type. Since the involvement and effectiveness of international organizations are obviously
influenced by more than just the political system of the disputing parties, and since at least some
of these other factors (dispute severity, for example) are correlated with democracy, this means
that the results summarized above are likely to be tainted by omitted variable bias and therefore
potentially misleading.
13

Secondly, questions can be raised about the appropriateness of using international
organization involvement as an indicator of disputants’ willingness to resolve their conflict by
institutional means. Many of the activities that international organizations typically undertake in
crisis situations – such as holding discussions, issuing appeals for restraint, or imposing sanctions
– do not necessarily require the consent of the conflict protagonists. Consequently, the fact that
an international organization was “involved” in a given conflict says very little about whether the
disputants welcomed and supported this involvement, and hence has rather limited bearing on the
argument being tested.
14

Third, neither Coplin and Rochester nor Hewitt and Wilkenfeld’s study is designed in a
fashion that would allow us to gauge whether the hypothesized relationship between democracy
and support for international organization involvement is primarily monadic or dyadic in nature.

13
On omitted variable bias and its consequences, see Gary King, Robert O. Keohane, and Sidney
Verba, Designing Social Inquiry: Scientific Inference in Qualitative Research (Princeton:
Princeton University Press, 1994), 168-82.
14
Strictly speaking, this criticism applies only the Hewitt and Wilkenfeld study, since Coplin and
Rochester examine almost exclusively cases submitted to the UN/League/PCIJ/ICJ by one or
both of the conflicting parties and include a measure that weighs the frequency with which states
6
Whereas Coplin and Rochester only examine the effects of democracy in general (i.e.,
irrespective of the opponent’s regime type), Hewitt and Wilkenfeld focus on the proposition that
the willingness of democratic disputants to manage their conflicts with the assistance of
international organizations varies with the nature of the political system of their opponents.
Although the latter version of the liberal argument currently enjoys greater popularity, both
variants are plausible in principle. But they are not identical in terms of their underlying causal
logic, and therefore should be treated as competing hypotheses. From a methodological point of
view, this means that we need to construct tests that enable us to explore both hypotheses
simultaneously – a task to which I turn next.


3. Research Design & Key Hypotheses
As a first step toward a more rigorous assessment of the link between democracy and conflict
actors’ support for international organization activity, the following sections develop a multivariate
logistic regression model of the relationship between regime type and states’ decisions whether to
seek UN involvement when engaged in an international crisis.
As the preceding formulation suggests, the ensuing analysis is cast at the level of the
individual crisis actor rather than that of the conflict as a whole. The principal advantage of this
design is that it allows for a more discerning analysis of conflicts involving states with different
regime types. Whereas a conflict-level analysis would only be able to tell us whether crises
involving a mix of democratic and non-democratic participants are more or less likely to
experience UN activity than crises involving states of similar regime type, using the individual

used these institutions by the degree of support and initiative shown. For details, see Coplin and
7
actor as the unit of observation allows us to identify which party acted as the initiator of UN
involvement. This information is of particular importance for evaluating the monadic version of
the liberal argument, which implies that in disputes between democratic and non-democratic
regimes, the former should generally be more supportive of international organization involvement
than the latter.
I concentrate on the case of the UN because although the UN is clearly not the only
international organization that plays an important role in the management of international conflict,
it is arguably the most prominent one. Moreover, in contrast to other international organizations
that execute a collective security or security management function, the UN’s reach is global.
Focusing on states’ behavior toward the UN rather than regional organizations such as NATO or
the OAU thus allows me to examine a larger (and therefore more representative) sample of
interstate conflicts.
Since I want to explore not only whether democratic conflict actors are more prone to
refer a dispute to the UN but also whether the effects of democracy are monadic or dyadic in
nature, I test both of the following hypotheses:

HYPOTHESIS 1 (monadic): When engaged in an international crisis, democratic states
are more likely to seek UN involvement than states that are not democratic.

HYPOTHESIS 2 (dyadic): When engaged in an international crisis, democratic states’
decisions whether to seek UN involvement will depend on the regime type of their opponent. The
more democratic the opponent, the higher democratic states’ propensity to seek UN involvement.

Rochester, “The Permanent Court,” 533.
8

In addition, the monadic version of the liberal argument also implies an interesting – if hitherto
overlooked – corollary. If democracies are indeed more receptive in general towards managing
their conflicts with the help of international organizations, then states confronted with democratic
opponents can expect a more positive response to their own efforts at institutions-based conflict
management than if they were faced with a non-democratic opponent. This suggests the
following third hypothesis:

HYPOTHESIS 3 (monadic corollary): When engaged in an international crisis, states
facing democratic opponents are more likely to seek UN involvement than states facing non-
democratic opponents.


4. Control Variables
As noted in Section 2 above, to gain a proper understanding of the effects and relative
importance of democracy as a determinant of states’ decisions whether to bring a conflict before
the UN, it is crucial to control for the impact of potentially confounding variables. Unfortunately,
little systematic work has been done on the conditions under which states are likely to approach
the UN for help in managing their conflicts.
15
Nonetheless, a number of control variables can be
identified based on previous research as well as arguments drawn from realist and institutionalist
theory.

15
This lacuna reflects the general dearth of knowledge about when and why states act though
formal international organizations noted in Kenneth W. Abbott and Duncan Snidal, “Why States
Act through Formal International Organizations,” Journal of Conflict Resolution 42, no. 1
(1998).
9

Security Council Membership
Permanent membership in the UN Security Council constitutes perhaps the most obvious
candidate for inclusion as a control variable. Members of the “permanent five” have special
influence over the UN’s agenda and decisions, both because of their sheer material power and
because of their ability to veto any action that could prove harmful to their interests.
Consequently, we should expect permanent Security Council members to act more often as
initiators of UN involvement than states that are in a less privileged position within the UN
decision-making hierarchy.

Relative Power
In addition to Security Council membership, relative power also should play an important role in
shaping disputants’ attitudes toward the UN. Although relatively little is known about the link
between the balance of power and the propensity of conflict actors to act through international
organizations, it seems plausible to expect weaker parties to be more favorably predisposed
toward UN involvement, for two reasons. First, because the UN Charter proscribes the threat or
use of force except for purposes of self-defense, actors that try to achieve their diplomatic goals
through violent means risk being condemned or sanctioned by the UN. Although rarely an
effective deterrent by itself, UN involvement thus tends to raise the cost of using force and
constrain stronger powers in their ability to coerce weaker ones into submission. Secondly,
besides striving to discourage disputants from resorting to the use of force in the first place, UN
activity is also geared toward promoting compromise outcomes in situations where violence is
already underway. To the extent that the UN succeeds in this mission, its involvement again
10
generally benefits weaker disputants, who otherwise might be faced with the prospect of total
defeat.

Alliance Ties to Major Powers
As realists would be quick to point out, the UN’s physical capabilities are extremely limited. It
has no army and few other resources of its own, and therefore possesses little coercive power.
Given the UN’s limited leverage and capabilities, the main benefit of bringing a conflict before the
UN (in terms of its effect on disputants’ bargaining position) usually consists of the ability to
mobilize international support by drawing attention to one’s cause and endowing it with an added
degree of legitimacy. Although successful pursuit of this strategy can enhance the bargaining
power of any state, the marginal benefits from using the UN in this fashion will usually be
negligible for actors with powerful military allies. Hence, states without alliance ties to a major
power should be significantly more likely to seek UN involvement than states that possess such
ties.

Alliance with Opponent
Some scholars have suggested that because allied states generally have important interests in
common, disputants that share an alliance with each other are likely to display a more positive
attitude towards third-party involvement than non-allied states.
16
Accordingly, one might
hypothesize that states engaged in a crisis involving an allied opponent will be more prone to
approach the UN than states facing an opponent that is not an ally.

16
See, for example, Dixon, “Democracy and the Management of International Conflict,” 61.
11
This line of reasoning, however, ignores the observation that alliances themselves often
serve a conflict management function. According to hegemonic stability theory, for example,
alliance leaders often play a crucial role in preserving peace among quarreling allies.
17
Thus, it
seems at least equally reasonable to expect a “substitution effect,” whereby allied disputants
resort to alliance institutions – or other alliance members – instead of the UN to manage their
conflicts with each other. In either case, including shared alliance membership as a control
variable is important, because the tendency for democratic states to ally with each other (at least
during the time period examined in this study) might otherwise confound our results.
18


UN Membership
This variable is likely to affect states’ propensity for seeking UN involvement for at least two
reasons. First, states that are UN members have an institutionalized “voice” in the organization
and therefore greater influence over how the UN approaches a given conflict than do non-
members.
19
Second, constructivist theorizing suggests that institutions can have an impact on
how member states define their interests as well as what constitutes appropriate methods for
pursuing them. Because of these “socialization effects” as well, we should expect member

17
On hegemonic stability theory, see Gilpin, War and Change; and Gilpin, The Political
Economy.
18
On the tendency of democratic states to form alliances with each other, see Randolph Siverson
and Juliann Emmons, “Birds of a Feather: Democratic Political Systems and Alliance Choices,”
Journal of Conflict Resolution 35, no. 2 (1991). Evidence suggesting that this effect is confined
to the Cold War is presented in Brian Lai and Dan Reiter, “Democracy, Political Similarity, and
International Alliances, 1816-1992,” Journal of Conflict Resolution 43, no. 2 (2000); and
Michael W. Simon and Erik Gartzke, “Political System Similarity and the Choice of Allies,”
Journal of Conflict Resolution 40, no. 4 (1996).
19
Even if this influence is likely to be small for most UN members when measured in absolute
terms, it will usually still exceed that of outsiders.
12
states to be more likely to rely on the UN in managing their conflicts than states that are non-
members.
20


Severity of Threat
In addition to the various realist and institutionalist factors considered above, states’ decisions
regarding whether to approach the UN should also be influenced by the severity of the threat that
a crisis poses to their security or interests. It is not entirely obvious, however, what direction we
should expect this relationship to take. On one hand, the higher the stakes, the greater the
incentives for states to use all available means - including the UN - for settling the underlying
conflict of interest and/or mobilizing international support. On the other hand, it might be argued
that because of the UN’s comparatively limited leverage and resources, UN activity will usually
make little difference once a certain threshold of conflict severity is passed. Because of these
countervailing tendencies, I expect the relationship between dispute severity and the probability
that states will seek UN involvement to assume a curvilinear form. Specifically, I hypothesize
that states confronting an intermediate level of threat are more likely to seek UN involvement
than states facing either low or extreme levels of threat.

Political Similarity
Some scholars have argued that all types of regimes – not only democracies – are typically more
amenable to third-party conflict management when faced with an opponent whose political

20
On the socializing impact of international institutions, see Alastair Iain Johnston, “Treating
International Institutions as Social Environments,” International Studies Quarterly 45, no. 4
(2001); Alexander Wendt, Social Theory of International Politics (Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 1999). For an application involving the UN, see Martha Finnemore,
13
system resembles their own.
21
To examine this possibility, I also include in my analysis a variable
that measures the similarity of states’ domestic regimes irrespective of whether they are
democracies or not. If the above hypothesis is correct, the probability that crisis actors will seek
UN involvement should decrease as their domestic regime becomes less similar to that of their
opponent.

Number of Disputants
This last variable is included mainly for statistical reasons. Everything else being equal, the
greater the number of crisis participants, the lower any individual actor’s baseline probability of
being the party that initiates UN involvement. Consequently, I anticipate this variable to be
negatively correlated with the dependent variable of this study.


5. Data and Measurements
Data on crises, crisis participants, as well as some of the independent variables are drawn from
the actor-level version (ICB2) of the International Crisis Behavior dataset compiled by Michael
Brecher and Jonathan Wilkenfeld.
22
In its original form, ICB2 contains actor-level information
for 412 crises that took place between 1918 and 1994. For purposes of the present analysis, I
made several alterations to this dataset.

“International Organizations as Teachers of Norms: The United Nations Educational, Scientific,
and Cultural Organization and Science Policy,” International Organization 47, no. 4 (1993).
21
Jacob Bercovitch and Allison Houston, “The Study of International Mediation: Theoretical
Issues and Empirical Evidence,” in Resolving International Conflicts: The Theory and
Practice of Mediation, ed. Jacob Bercovitch (Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 1996), 20-21.
14
First, I dropped all crises that occurred before the UN was established. Second,
following the practice adopted by other users of this dataset, I decided to merge or delete a
number of the crises recorded by ICB. Specifically, I eliminated from the sample all cases in
which there was no clear evidence that any of the participants engaged in the threat or use of
armed force, as well as all crises in which at least one side was not an officially recognized
member of the interstate system at the time of the crisis. In addition, I merged several cases
where military violence was ongoing between crises (such as crises that broke out within the
context of a full-scale war or protracted guerrilla campaign).
23
Third, I deleted from the
remaining sample all crises in which the UN was not involved in any form.
24
Finally, I removed
from the sample all states that joined a crisis only after the UN had already become involved,
since these actors by definition cannot be expected to become initiators of UN involvement.
25

Following these modifications, the sample analyzed in this study comprises observations
for a total of 246 state actors in 128 international crises between 1945 and 1994. Details

22
For a detailed description of this dataset, see Michael Brecher and Jonathan Wilkenfeld, A
Study of Crisis (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1997). The data file is available for
download at http://www.missouri.edu/~polsjjh/ICB/.
23
Other studies that have pursued the same approach include Christopher F. Gelpi, “Alliances as
Instruments of Intra-Allied Control,” in Imperfect Unions: Security Institutions over Time and
Space, ed. Helga Haftendorn, Robert O. Keohane, and Celeste A. Wallander (New York:
Oxford University Press, 1999); Christopher F. Gelpi and Michael Griesdorf, “Winners or
Losers? Democracies in International Crisis, 1918-94,” American Political Science Review 95,
no. 3 (2001); David L. Rousseau et al., “Assessing the Dyadic Nature of the Democratic Peace,
1918-88,” American Political Science Review 90, no. 3 (1996). The rules used here follow
closely those detailed in the appendix to Gelpi and Griesdorf, “Winners or Losers.”
24
This procedure was adopted on purely pragmatic grounds (i.e., to minimize the amount of data
work) and raises obvious questions about the potential for selection effects. That is, crises that
experience UN involvement may differ from other crises in ways that may limit the
generalizability of the results presented below. To address this issue, I am currently in the process
of expanding the sample to include cases in which the UN did not become active as well.
25
Entry dates for joiners were determined based on the date identified by ICB2 as the time an
actor first perceives itself as involved in a foreign policy crisis.
15
concerning the measurement and operationalization of my dependent and independent variables
are described below.

Initiation of UN Involvement
This constitutes the dependent variable of the statistical analysis presented below and is coded in
dichotomous (dummy) fashion. Actors receive a score of 1 on this variable if they undertook
positive diplomatic efforts that caused the UN to become involved in a given crisis
26
; all
remaining crisis participants are given a score of 0. Actors in crises where UN activity resulted
from the efforts of a party that was not a crisis participant, or was initiated by the office of the
UN Secretary General, are also assigned a value of 0.
27


Regime Type
To measure the regime type of crisis actors and their opponents,
28
I draw on the most recent
version (IV) of the widely used Polity dataset compiled by Monty Marshall and Keith Jaggers.
29


26
Examples of relevant activities include bringing a conflict to the attention of one of the UN’s
main official organs (General Assembly, Security Council, Secretary General); lodging a
complaint about another country’s actions over the disputed issue; requesting the dispatch of a
UN mediation, observer, fact-finding, or peacekeeping mission; and demanding the imposition of
economic or military sanctions against another country.
27
Data for this variable were generated by consulting the case summaries provided in Brecher
and Wilkenfeld, A Study of Crisis For crises that took place during the 1945-1974 period, I
supplemented this source with information drawn from the synopses in Robert Lyle Butterworth
and Margaret Scranton, E., Managing Interstate Conflict, 1945-74: Data with Synopses
(Pittsburgh: University Center for International Studies, 1976). Codings are based on states’
actions during the time interval between the crisis start and end dates as specified by ICB.
28
Opponents were identified based on the ICB2 variable SOUTHV, which lists the state
perceived as the source of threat to values by the focal actor. In cases where the focal actor
perceives a threat from more than one state (e.g. Israel in the 1956 Suez War crisis), SOUTHV
lists the state perceived as the most threatening. For further details concerning the coding rules
for this and other ICB2 variables employed in this study, see the ICB2 codebook available for
download from the ICB website.
16
Consistent with standard practice, I measure a state’s level of democracy by subtracting its score
on the autocracy index from the score it receives on the democracy index to generate a scale
ranging from -10 (=maximal autocracy) to +10 (=maximal democracy). Since liberal theory is
silent on how variations in levels of freedom below the threshold to full democracy affect conflict
actors’ propensity for utilizing international organizations, I dichotomized this variable using +7 as
a cutoff value. States with regime scores equal or greater than this value are coded as
democratic; all other states are classified as non-democracies.
30

In order to test Hypothesis 3, I also created an interaction term designed to capture the
effects of the opposing party’s regime type on the propensity of democratic crisis actors to
approach the UN. For this purpose, I first rescaled the continuous version of the opponent’s
regime score so that it ranges from 1 (=maximal autocracy) to 21 (=maximal democracy) instead
of -10 to 10. This new measure was then interacted with the dummy variable representing the
regime type of the focal actor so that it equals the opponent’s regime score if the focal actor is a
democracy, and 0 otherwise. If Hypothesis 3 is correct, we should observe a positive correlation
between this variable and the probability that a state will initiate UN involvement.

Permanent Security Council Membership
Permanent membership in the UN Security Council is represented by a dummy variable that
equals 1 if the actor in question was a permanent member of the UN Security Council at the time

29
Polity IV Project, Polity IV Dataset. Computer file, Version p4v2000 (College Park, MD:
Center for International Development and Conflict Management, University of Maryland, 2000).
Polity IV updates and integrates the Polity III and Polity IIId datasets.
30
This is also the approach adopted by the managers of the Polity dataset themselves. See Keith
Jaggers and Ted Robert Gurr, “Tracking Democracy's Third Wave with the Polity Iii Data,”
Journal of Peace Research 32, no. 4 (1995), 474. Setting the threshold at +6 or +8 does not
17
it was engaged in a crisis, and 0 otherwise. Since China’s seat in the UN was occupied by
Taiwan until October 1971, the latter receives a score of 1 on this variable for any crisis that
occurred between 1945 and this date, while China is coded 0 for this time period. For crises that
took place after 1971, the codings for the two Chinas are reversed. The Unites States, France,
Great Britain, and the Soviet Union/Russia are coded 1 for the entire historical period covered in
this study.

Relative Power
Relative power is operationalized using the Correlates of War (COW) project’s composite
capabilities index, which measures states’ share of global systemic resources in terms of
population, urban population, energy consumption, iron and steel production, military manpower,
and military expenditures.
31
Specifically, relative power will be represented by the natural
logarithm of the ratio of the focal actor’s score on the COW capabilities index to that of the focal
state’s opponent.
32
I use the natural logarithm of this ratio rather than its raw value because I
assume relative power to marked by declining returns to scale (i.e., going from parity to a power
ratio of 2:1 is likely to have a greater substantive impact than moving from a ratio of 9:1 to a ratio
of 10:1).

affect the substantive nature of the findings reported below, although it changes the confidence
levels for some coefficients.
31
J. David Singer, Stuart Bremer, and John Stuckey, “Capability Distribution, Uncertainty, and
Major Power War, 1820-1965,” in Peace, War, and Numbers, ed. Bruce Russett (Beverly Hills:
Sage, 1972).
32
Capabilities scores were obtained using Version 2.3 of the EUGene data generation and
management software authored by D. Scott Bennett and Allan Stam. For a description of the
program, see D. Scott Bennett and Allan Stam, “Eugene: A Conceptual Manual,” International
Interactions 26 (2000). For dyadic crises, capabilities scores are for the year that ICB records
as the year in which the crisis broke out. For multilateral crises, scores are for the year in which
an actor became a crisis participant.
18

Alliance Ties to Major Powers
Data concerning the availability of major power allies are based on the ICB2 variable
ALLYCAP. ALLYCAP divides states into four categories: 1.) states that are non-aligned or
neutral; 2.) states with informal alliance ties to a great or superpower; 3.) states that are formally
allied with a great or superpower; and 4.) alliance leaders, i.e., the great/superpowers
themselves. Since I expect the major distinction regarding the effects of this variable to lie
between those states that are either aligned with a major power or are major powers themselves
on the one hand, and states that fall into neither of these two categories on the other hand, I
collapsed this variable into a simple dichotomy. States that ICB identifies as non-aligned or
neutral receive a score of 1 on this variable, while all other states are assigned a value of 0.
33


Alliance with Opponent
Like the preceding variable, the presence or absence of alliance ties between crisis actors on
opposing sides is measured in simple dichotomous fashion. States are given a value of 1 on this
variable if they have any form of (formal) alliance relationship with their opponent, and 0
otherwise. States are classified as allies if they are coded by COW as having shared a defense
pact, neutrality pact, or entente during the year in which the crisis broke out.
34


Severity of Threat

33
I rely on ALLYCAP rather than the much more widely used COW alliance data for the coding
of this variable since the former has the advantage of capturing informal as well as formal
alliance relationships.
34
Like the capabilities scores, data on states’ alliance memberships were obtained using
EUGENE, V. 2.3.
19
ICB2 codes the severity of the threat that a crisis poses to an actor on a 7-point scale whose
values are as follows: 0 = economic threat; 1 = limited military threat; 2 = political (regime)
threat; 3 = territorial threat; 4 = threat to influence; 5 = threat of grave damage; 6 = threat to
existence.
35
Since my prediction about the impact of this variable focuses on the distinction
between crisis actors confronting a low or extreme level of threat on the one hand and actors
faced with intermediate levels of threat on the other, I first collapsed the above scale into a
trichotomous measure. Specifically, I classified threats to a state’s existence as constituting an
extreme level of threat; threats to a state’s territory or regime, as well as those involving grave
damage as medium-level threats; and all other types of threat as comparatively low-level threats.
Because I expect both low and extreme levels of threat to be associated with a lower propensity
for states to approach the UN, I then further simplified this measure so that it takes on a value of
1 if a state faces an intermediate level of threat, and 0 otherwise.

UN Membership
This variable is coded dichotomously as well. It assumes a value of 1 if, at the time of the crisis,
the actor in question was a member of the UN, and 0 otherwise.
36


Political Similarity
The similarity of states’ regime types is measured using the absolute value of the difference
between the focal actor’s score on the combined democracy-autocracy index described above

35
Cases for which ICB identifies the level of threat as “Other” are treated as missing for
purposes of the present analysis.
36
Data on states’ membership in the UN were obtained from the UN website at
http://www.un.org/Overview/unmember.html
20
and that of the actor’s opponent. Values for this variable can range from 0 to 20, with higher
values indicating increasing degrees of dissimilarity.

Number of Disputants
For this variable, I first simply added up the number of states that ICB2 lists as actors for a
particular crisis. In addition, I counted as a disputant every state that ICB2 identifies as an
opponent (source of threat) of a state classified as a crisis actor. Finally, I subtracted from the
sum of these two numbers the number of states that joined the crisis only after the UN had
already become involved, since these states have no impact on a state’s baseline probability of
becoming an initiator of UN involvement. Observed values for this variable range from a
minimum of 2 to a maximum of 7.


6. Analysis and Results
Since the dependent variable of this study is of binary nature, I test the model outlined above
using logistic regression (logit).
37
The results of this statistical analysis are presented in overview
form in Tables 1 through 3 below. Overall, the logit results strongly support the liberal claim that
democracies are more likely to utilize international organizations when engaged in a militarized
confrontation, although not all of our initial hypotheses are confirmed.
Hypothesis 1, which stated that democracies are more likely in general to seek UN
involvement than other types of regimes, receives solid confirmation. As Table 1 shows, the

37
The logit analysis was performed using Stata 7.0. On logit, see William H. Greene,
Econometric Analysis, 4th ed. (Prentice Hall, 2000), chp. 19.
21
coefficient for the democracy variable is positive and significant at the 0.05 level.
38
Hypothesis 3,
the corollary of the monadic argument, finds only limited backing in the data. As predicted, crisis
actors appear to be more inclined to approach the UN when confronted with a democratic
opponent, but the coefficient for this variable fails to reach conventional levels of statistical
significance.
Perhaps most surprisingly, Hypothesis 2 (the dyadic version of the liberal argument)
receives no support. Contrary to what this hypothesis predicts, the coefficient representing the
interaction between democracy and opponent’s regime type is negative. Although it is significant
only at the more permissive 0.10 level, this result suggests that the propensity of democratic
states to refer their disputes to the UN actually declines as their opponents become more
democratic.
39
What makes this finding especially striking is the fact that in general, political
similarity appears to have a positive influence on the willingness of crisis actors to bring their
conflicts to the UN’s attention. Although the variable measuring the degree to which an actor’s
domestic political system differs from that of its opponent also is significant only at the 0.10 level,
it is negatively signed, indicating that, in general, states become less inclined to involve the UN
when facing politically dissimilar adversaries.

Table 1: Logistic Regression Results


38
All significance tests reported in this section are two-tailed.
39
Raising the threshold used for coding states as democratic to +8 instead of +7 renders this
finding significant at the 0.05 level, while leaving the results for the monadic term virtually
unchanged.
22
Variable

Coefficient Standard
Error
Significance
Level
(two-tailed)
Democracy 1.746 .871 0.045
Opponent Democratic .711 .509 0.162
Democracy * Polity Score of Opponent -.118 .068 0.084
Political Dissimilarity -.071 .041 0.085
Security Council Member .909 .526 0.084
Relative Power -.208 .076 0.006
No Major Power Allies 1.100 .365 0.003
Alliance w. Opponent -.564 .382 0.139
Dispute Severity .728 .362 0.045
UN Member 2.673 1.088 0.014
No. of Disputants -.470 .151 0.002
Constant .119 .666 0.858

N = 246
Log likelihood: -129.0753
Pseudo-R
2
: 0.1827
% of Cases Correctly Predicted: 76
Proportionate Reduction in Error (PRE): 29.6%


The remaining control variables behave largely as expected. As predicted, the
coefficients for the variables measuring relative power and joint membership in a military alliance
are negatively signed; only the former, however, achieves statistical significance.
40

Also as anticipated, membership in the UN and the absence of major power allies have a positive
and robust influence on the tendency of crisis actors to engage the UN, with significance levels
of 0.014 and 0.003, respectively. Permanent Security Council membership also has a positive

40
One reason why the alliance term fails to reach significance may be its relatively strong
correlation with political similarity (r = -0.427).
23
effect on disputants’ proclivity for involving the UN, although this variable is significant only at
the 0.10 level.
41
The coefficient for the dummy variable measuring the gravity of the threat
confronted by crisis actors, finally, also has a positive sign and is significant at 0.05. Thus, there
indeed seems to exist a curvilinear relationship between dispute severity and the inclination of
crisis actors to resort to the UN, as hypothesized above.
42

In terms of its overall fit, too, the model performs quite well. As Table 2 shows, the
model successfully predicts states’ decisions concerning whether to initiate UN involvement in
76%, or 187 out of the 246 cases included in the sample. This constitutes a considerable
improvement over the number of correct predictions (162, or 65.9%) that could have been
obtained through simple reliance on the modal value of the dependent variable, and is equivalent
to a proportionate reduction in error (PRE) of nearly 30%.


Table 2: Comparison of Predicted and Observed Outcomes


41
Again, collinearity may be to blame here, as Security Council membership correlates fairly
strongly with some of the other independent variables in the model. Pearson’s r for the bivariate
associations between Security Council membership and the remaining independent variables
range from 0.133 to 0.465.
42
To ensure the accuracy of this conclusion, I repeated the above analysis with a linear version
of the gravity term added to the regression equation. In this amended analysis, the linear term is
negatively signed and falls far short of statistical significance, whereas the coefficient for the
curvilinear term retains its positive sign and is only slightly less significant. Repeating the analysis
with only the linear term included produces a positively signed but statistically insignificant
coefficient.
24
144 18 88.9
41 43 51.2
76.0
Observed
No
Yes
Actor Initiates UN
Involvement
Overall Percentage

No Yes
Actor Initiates UN
Involvement
Percentage
Correct
Predicted




To assess the substantive importance of the model’s explanatory variables, I calculated
the change in the predicted likelihood that an actor will seek UN involvement that results from
changes in the value of an independent variable when the remaining variables are held at their
means or modes. The results of this procedure further underline the importance of democracy in
shaping states’ policies regarding UN involvement. As Table 3 reveals, changing a state’s
regime type from non-democratic to democratic can increase the probability that it will act as an
initiator of UN involvement by up to 62%; an effect roughly equivalent in magnitude to that
produced by Security Council membership and more than twice as large as the impact of a one
standard deviation increase in relative power.

Table 3: Effects of Changes in Values of Explanatory Variables
43



43
Since the variable registering the number of disputants was included for statistical reasons only,
it is omitted from this table.
25
Variable Change from Baseline
Democracy
No to Yes, Opponent’s Democracy Score = 1 +62%
No to Yes, Opponent’s Democracy Score = 6 +45%
No to Yes, Opponent’s Democracy Score = 11 +27%
No to Yes, Opponent’s Democracy Score = 16 +11%
No to Yes, Opponent’s Democracy Score = 21 +44%
Opponent Democratic
No to Yes +50%
Regime Dissimilarity
Increased by one Std. Deviation -30%
Security Council Member
No to Yes +64%
Relative Power
Increased by one Std. Deviation -30%
Major Power Allies
Yes to No +77%
Alliance w. Opponent
No to Yes -33%
Dispute Severity
Medium to Low/Extreme Level of Threat -41%
UN Member
No to Yes +90%

Note: Marginal effects of changes in the value of independent variables were
calculated by generating predicted values from the logistic regression equation
while holding the remaining variables at their means or modes.

Democracy’s effects, however, vary greatly depending on the regime type of the
opponent. As the figures in Table 3 indicate, the amount by which switching a state’s regime
26
type from non-democratic to democratic increases the predicted probability that it will approach
the UN is greatest when the actor’s opponent is fully autocratic. As the opponent becomes more
and more democratic, the substantive impact of democracy steadily declines, and picks up again
only once the opponent’s regime type has crossed the threshold to full democracy (due to the
strong positive influence of Opponent Democracy in general). As noted before, this pattern
strongly contradicts the dyadic version of the liberal argument and raises interesting questions
about the nature of the causal processes at work – a subject to which I turn below.


7. Conclusion
This paper has examined the relationship between regime type and states’ propensity for
managing their conflicts with the assistance of international organizations. Based on a
quantitative analysis of state behavior in 128 international crises between 1945 and 1994, I have
shown that democracy has a strong positive effect on the willingness of states to seek UN
involvement when engaged in an international crisis. Contrary to what existing theoretical
formulations would lead us to expect, however, the preceding analysis also suggests that
democratic regimes utilize the UN predominantly in order to manage their conflicts with non-
democracies.
Given the unanticipated nature of this second finding, perhaps the most pressing task for
future research is to investigate the causal mechanisms underlying this phenomenon. Two
possible explanations suggest themselves, neither of which is entirely satisfactory. First, one
might conjecture that the apparent tendency of democratic states to resort to the UN primarily
when confronted with non-democratic adversaries simply reflects the greater intractability of
27
these types of conflicts. From this perspective, conflicts between democratic states are less
likely to require the involvement of conflict management agents such as the UN, mainly because
of the superior ability of democratic states to signal their intentions and resolve disputes through
compromise rather than war.
44
Conflicts between democracies and non-democracies, in
contrast, are more much difficult to resolve and therefore call for the presence of a mediating
agent. Although plausible, this argument does not explain why regime similarity in general (i.e.,
among non-democracies) appears to have a positive effect on states’ inclination to refer a dispute
to the UN. Since conflicts between politically similar states tend to be more tractable than those
involving states with more divergent domestic political systems, the former should be associated
with a decreased – not increased – willingness of crisis actors to request third-party assistance if
the argument were correct.
A second possible explanation might proceed from the observation that states often value
the UN less for its capacities as a mediator than as a tool for generating international attention
and support. Based on this insight, it could be argued that democracies value this “mobilization
function” more highly when engaged in conflicts with non-democratic opponents, where the
potential for escalation is typically higher. The challenge for this line of reasoning, however,
would be to explain why non-democracies do not appear to make the same calculation when
confronting a democratic adversary.

44
On the unique signaling and dispute resolution capabilities of democratic regimes, see, inter
alia, William J. Dixon, “Democracy and the Peaceful Settlement of International Conflict,”
American Political Science Review 88, no. 1 (1994); James D. Fearon, “Domestic Political
Audiences and the Escalation of International Disputes,” American Political Science Review 88,
no. 3 (1994); Michael Mousseau, “Democracy and Compromise in Militarized Interstate
Conflicts, 1816-1992,” Journal of Conflict Resolution 42, no. 2 (1998); and Kenneth A. Schultz,
Democracy and Coercive Diplomacy (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2001).
28
In addition to addressing these theoretical issues, future research should also aim to
extend and refine the empirical analysis presented in this paper. First, although states’ decisions
whether to refer a dispute to the UN provide us with some indication of their overall attitude
toward UN involvement, this measure is far from perfect, since it provides no information on the
degree to which non-initiating parties supported or opposed the UN’s activities. Secondly, future
studies should also go beyond the present effort by examining the relationship between
democracy and the effectiveness of UN involvement. Since disputants frequently resort to the
UN primarily for its mobilization rather than mediatory function, the democratic tendency to seek
UN involvement demonstrated in this paper need not necessarily translate into making the UN a
more successful peace broker.
45
Finally, future research should also explore whether the
empirical patterns reported in this paper are specific to the UN or extend to the behavior of
democracies toward international organizations in general. If the preceding analysis is any
indication, the results of these efforts are likely to challenge what we thought we knew about the
relationship between democracy and international organizations.

45
I am addressing this issue in research in progress.
29
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