When and how regions become peaceful: Potential theoretical pathways to peace

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The objective of this essay is to address the following two puzzles. First, what best accounts for the transition from war to peace in different regions at different times? Second, what is the best explanation for variations in the level of regional peace that exists in different regions in a particular time period? Consider the differences that exist today in the Middle Eastern, South American, and Western European regions. A theoretical framework is proposed that is intended to integrate the regional and international perspectives on regional peace. It establishes linkages between different mechanisms that can lead to regional peace and the emergence of different levels of peace as well as presents three potential theoretical pathways to peace. An argument is made that the underlying cause of regional war propensity is the extent of the state-to-nation imbalance in a region. Accordingly, different peacemaking strategies produce different levels of peace based on their treatment of the state-to-nation problem. A distinction is made between the effects of different approaches to peacemaking and the conditions for their success. In effect, peacemaking strategies bring about the transition from war to peace only if certain conditions exist in the region. The advantages and disadvantages of the three mechanisms are illustrated through three case studies, each exemplifying a specific strategy and level of peace that have resulted from the presence of certain conditions in the region: the Middle East (a transition to cold peace in the 1990s), South America (the evolution of normal peace across the twentieth century), and Western Europe (the emergence of warm peace since the 1950s).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)229-267
Number of pages39
JournalInternational Studies Review
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Political Science and International Relations


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