The level of violence seen during transitions from authoritarian to democratic rule varies substantially. Recently, Tunisia experienced an almost bloodless transition, while in Libya the attempt to oust the Gadhafi regime ended in a civil war. This paper looks at the dynamics of democratic transitions, and attempts to explain why some become extremely violent while others progress peacefully. Specifically, the paper looks at the potential role of international governmental organizations (IGOs) for constraining or altering the behavior of non-democratic regimes, thereby influencing regime transitions. It argues that, by alleviating commitment problems between the outgoing regime and the new elites, and by imposing sanctions that reduce an incumbent regime’s ability to reap the benefits of office, IGOs increase the likelihood of seeing a peaceful transition to democracy. However, the paper also argues that non-democratic leaders should anticipate this, and therefore that regimes that are members of highly interventionist IGOs should be less likely to liberalize at all. The paper finds evidence in favor of the proposition that IGOs increase the likelihood of a peaceful regime transition, and that non-democratic regimes that are members of highly interventionist IGOs anticipate being constrained by these organizations, and therefore are more reluctant to liberalize in the first place.
Nygård, Håvard Mokleiv (2015) The role of international organizations in regime transitions: How IGOs can tie a dictator’s hands, *Conflict Management and Peace Science *. DOI: 10.1177/0738894215599554.