Intergovernmental Organizations (IGOs) and Interstate Conflict: Parsing Out IGO Effects for Alternative Dimensions of Conflict in Postcommunist Space


  • Authors’ notes: Earlier versions of this article were presented at the 18th Peace Science Society Annual Conference, November 2–4, 2007 and the 4th Journeys in World Politics Workshop, October 9–11, 2008. The authors would like to acknowledge Gary Goertz, William Dixon, Sara McLaughlin Mitchell, Andrei Tsygankov, and three anonymous reviewers for their insightful comments on previous drafts. Replication data and command files are available on the authors’ Web site (


While the relationship between intergovernmental organizations (IGOs) and conflict has captured the attention of international relations scholars for decades, the empirical results of this research agenda have presented contradictory conclusions regarding the pacifying effect normally attributed to IGOs. We address these contradictions by refocusing primarily on potential IGO effects on low-severity conflicts. We examine new states in the postcommunist space spanning Europe and Central Asia as a useful research site to explore these relationships in the post-Cold War era. We argue that especially in the case of newly emerging states, where there is little institutional memory and long-term experience in foreign affairs, IGOs expose differential policy preferences between members, and such information should be associated with the likelihood of increased low levels of conflict. We find a strong association between shared IGO membership and low severity conflict, a significant relationship between low and high severity conflict, and differences between IGO membership effects on low versus high severity conflict, consistent with our theoretical argument.