Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Political Science

First Advisor

Jaroslav Tir

Second Advisor

David H. Bearce

Third Advisor

Moonhawk Kim

Fourth Advisor

Joseph H. Jupille

Fifth Advisor

Ryan S. Bakker


How can international institutions reduce the occurrence of militarized conflict between states? This dissertation demonstrates that the costs that intergovernmental organizations (IGOs) can impose on member states for using force play a crucial role in answering this question. Scholars have suggested that IGOs are a useful tool to mitigate conflicts between states and to reduce the instances of war. However, empirical findings so far have been ambivalent, and scholars disagree about the causal mechanisms behind such a role of IGOs. My dissertation addresses this problem in three ways. First, it develops a theoretical model to identify a specific causal mechanism through which IGOs affect the trajectory of disputes between countries. The argument builds on the ability of IGOs to change the costs and benefits that states face after a demand has been made or a dispute has ensued. Qualitative evidence informs this argument. Second, new information on the structural and demonstrated leverage of IGOs provides the data necessary for a quantitative test of the argument. Third, an empirical test investigates the role of IGOs for states' use of force and the occurrence of war in those critical cases where states have already expressed a severe conflict of interest. These quantitative analyses use three types of cases: the development of inter-state relations after states have made a claim against another state; the evolution of interstate crises; and the evolution of interstate rivalries. The costs that IGOs can impose on member states for using force are found to play a crucial role in how IGOs may reduce militarized conflict between states. It has implications for future international relations research in the domains of international conflict and international political economy, as well as for international conflict management.