Making and Breaking Territorial Agreements: Explaining European Exceptionalism

Thursday, January 30, 2014
3:30 PM - 5:00 PM
CISAC Conference Room

ABOUT THE TOPIC: While the overall record of compliance with interstate territorial agreement since 1815 is quite high, Europe experienced a disproportionate share of treaty failures compared to other regions of the world. In Europe, treaties were frequently made and frequently broken; everywhere else, the dominant pattern has been for treaties to be rarely made and rarely broken. I argue that this pattern arose due to multilateral and hierarchical nature of border settlements in Europe, which was heavily influenced by the region’s great powers. Although great powers often imposed treaty terms on other states, enforcement was, at best, inconsistent and, at worst, actively undermined by their own actions. Using a new data set on interstate territorial conflicts and agreements, I show that the fates of border settlements in Europe were highly interdependent and vulnerable to contagion, either failing or succeeding en masse. By contrast, in other regions, where border settlements tended to be bilaterally determined, treaty failures were less likely to cluster in time. In addition to their implications for the study of treaty compliance and conflict contagion, these results speak to the promise and dangers of externally-imposed peace agreements.

ABOUT THE SPEAKER: Kenneth A. Schultz is professor of political science at Stanford University and an affiliated faculty member at CISAC. His research examines international conflict and conflict resolution, with a particular focus on the domestic political influences on foreign policy choices. His most recent work deals with the origins and resolution of territorial conflicts between states. He is the author of Democracy and Coercive Diplomacy (Cambridge University Press, 2001), World Politics: Interests, Interactions, and Institutions (with David Lake and Jeffry Frieden, Norton, 2013), as well as numerous articles in peer-reviewed scholarly journals. He was the recipient the 2003 Karl Deutsch Award, given by the International Studies Association, and a Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, given by Stanford’s School of Humanities and Sciences.