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World Politics

Vol. 64, No. 2

April 2012

Democratization and Multilateral Security

By Isabella Alcañiz
Does democratization increase commitment to multilateral security? In this article, the author argues that democratic transitions increase the incentives of states to cooperate in multilateral security and that this is observable in the rate at which new democracies ratify international treaties of arms control, nuclear nonproliferation, and disarmament. New democrats, she asserts, seek a positive international reputation as an insurance mechanism against future regime reversals. By becoming “good citizens” of the global system, newly elected democratic leaders seek to expose potential conspirators to the possibility of diplomatic and economic sanctions if they were to attempt to reverse the transition. First, using original data on the ratification rates of 201 states for twenty major arms control, nonproliferation, and disarmament treaties, the present study shows conclusively that new democracies outpace older democracies and all autocracies in committing to multilateral security. Second, the study empirically tests whether the swift ratification of security treaties works as a consolidation strategy and finds that, indeed, it does. That is, new democracies that commit to nonproliferation and arms control treaties are less likely to experience a regime reversal.

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