Institutional Resilience, Deterrence and the Transition to Zero Nuclear Weapons

in Security and Human Rights
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The goal of a world free from nuclear weapons is directly related to the issues of international institutions and deterrence. Assuming that it would be possible, first, to move to significantly lower numbers of nuclear weapons and then to zero nuclear weapons, governing institutions would have to be resilient enough to respond in a timely manner and to uphold the bargain. But what factors determine and influence institutional resilience? And what would be the likely role of deterrence? This article first assesses what the general ir narratives tell us about determining factors. It then examines two empirical cases from the realm of arms control institutions (the cfe and the npt treaties) and asks why these agreements are not as effective as intended. The next section discusses three additional factors of influence and identifies a shared interest in overcoming the deterrence principle as a key variable for institutional cooperation and as a factor that continues to influence resilience and effectiveness. The last section presents the conclusions.

Institutional Resilience, Deterrence and the Transition to Zero Nuclear Weapons

in Security and Human Rights



  • 7

    As Thomas Risse correctly noted“there are at least as many definitions of (international) institutions as there are theoretical perspectives”. Thomas Risse, “Constructivism and International Institutions: Toward Conversations across Paradigms” in Political Science: The State of the DisciplineIra Katznelson and Helen V. Milner (eds.) New York: Norton 2002 pp. 597–629. Institutions as defined in this article can comprise (1) bilateral or multilateral legally or politically binding treaties and agreements; (2) regimes and regime complexes; and (3) international organizations. For an overview of the debate see John S. Duffield “What Are International Institutions?” in International Studies Review 9 2007 no. 1 pp. 1–22.

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  • 11

    John J. Mearsheimer“The False Promise of International Institutions” in International Security 19 1994/95 no. 3 pp. 5–49.

  • 13

    Emanuel Adler and Peter M. Haas“Conclusion: Epistemic Communities, World Order, and the Creation of a Reflective Research Program” in International Organization 46 1992 no. 1 pp. 367–390.

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  • 14

    Robert O. Keohane“International Institutions: Two Approaches” in International Studies Quarterly 32 1988 no. 4 pp. 379–396.

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  • 30

     Cf. Barany and Rauchhaus 2011.

  • 31

     Cf. Łukasz Kulesa“The Role of Arms Control in Future European Security” in Security and Human Rights 25 2014 no. 2 pp. 221–234.

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  • 36

    Oliver Meier 2015.

  • 37

     Cf. Waltz 1979p. 91.

  • 45

    Jacques E. Hymans“The Psychology of Nuclear Restraint” in Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists on-line Washington 12 October 2015 accessed 24 November 2015

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  • 47

     Cf. Hinderstein 2010.

  • 50

     Cf. Kulesa 2014.

  • 51

     Cf. Müller 1993pp. 43 et seq.

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