How International Actors Help Enforce Domestic Deals
44 Pages Posted: 18 Jan 2018 Last revised: 18 Feb 2020
Date Written: December 30, 2019
International actors at times seek to help bring peace, democracy, and human rights. Studies of how international actors help enforce political bargains between incumbent governments and their domestic opponents are proliferating. They show that opposition groups have trouble trusting the incumbent to adhere to the political bargain they strike because incumbents can use their familiarity with state institutions and can use their asymmetric hold on power during bargain implementation to violate terms by retaining more of the status quo than agreed. International actors can overcome these “reversion problems,” however, by using monitoring mechanisms (often focused on electoral campaigns) and incentives conditioned on compliance. Reversion problems, and enforcement by international actors as a solution, are common across issue areas—arising when domestic actors try to end civil conflict, open elections, and reduce repression—but the literatures in these issue areas have largely remained segregated. This review proposes advancing this research agenda by unifying them and (re)examining the conditions under which this solution works best.
Keywords: civil war, elections, human rights, international peacekeepers, international observers, conditional aid, reversion problems, Golidlocks condition, systemic spotlights
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