The Liberal Illusion is Not a Complete Delusion: The WTO Helps Member States Keep the Peace Only When it Increases Trade

46 Pages Posted: 20 Apr 2015

See all articles by Susan Ariel Aaronson

Susan Ariel Aaronson

George Washington University - Elliott School of International Affairs

Mohammed Rodwan Abouharb

University College London - School of Public Policy

K. Daniel Wang

George Washington University - Elliott School of International Affairs (ESIA)

Date Written: April 18, 2015

Abstract

We use both qualitative and quantitative tools to examine whether membership in the WTO reduces the likelihood of conflict. In our qualitative analysis, we show how WTO facilitates cooperation and transparency. Then we study what policymakers say and do to use trade to promote peace. We also examine whether and how members of the WTO respond to acceding states as well as member states experiencing inter-state conflict. We find member states do little to expand trade with states in conflict. Moreover, they continue to use trade sanctions. Hence, they are sending contradictory messages about the trade/peace relationship.

Next we test whether the trust engendered through daily interactions and participation in a rules based system (our membership hypothesis) reduces the likelihood of conflict or whether membership in the WTO which in turn leads to expanded trade reduces the likelihood of conflict (our membership and trade hypothesis).

We find no evidence that membership alone reduces the likelihood of either major interstate war or Militarized Interstate Disputes among members. However, when states are both members of the GATT/WTO and benefit from increased trade, they are less likely to engage in Militarized Interstate Disputes. Hence, the liberal illusion is not a complete delusion.

Keywords: trade, conflict, WTO, rule of law

JEL Classification: F40, F56, 019

Suggested Citation

Aaronson, Susan and Abouharb, Mohammed Rodwan and Wang, K. Daniel, The Liberal Illusion is Not a Complete Delusion: The WTO Helps Member States Keep the Peace Only When it Increases Trade (April 18, 2015). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2596102 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2596102

Susan Aaronson (Contact Author)

George Washington University - Elliott School of International Affairs ( email )

1957 E Street
Washington, DC 20052
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.gwu.edu/~elliott/faculty/aaronson.cfm

Mohammed Rodwan Abouharb

University College London - School of Public Policy ( email )

29/30 Tavistock Square
London, WC1H 9QU
United Kingdom

K. Daniel Wang

George Washington University - Elliott School of International Affairs (ESIA) ( email )

2201 G Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20052
United States

Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Downloads
41
Abstract Views
822
PlumX Metrics