Non-Democratic Peace in South America

Comparing the Beagle Channel Crisis (1977–1978) and the Cenepa Crisis (1994–1995)

Master's Thesis 2007 107 Pages

Politics - International Politics - Region: Middle- and South America




Part I. Theoretical Framework
Deterrence: Success and Failure
Third Party Intervention and War Prevention
Working Hypotheses

Part II. The Beagle Channel Crisis (Argentina vs. Chile 1977–1978) 36
Actors: The Military in Power
Why Did the Crisis Not Escalate to War?

Part III. The Cenepa Crisis (Ecuador vs. Peru 1994–1995)
Actors: Democracy vs. Democracy?
Why did the Crisis Escalate to War?

Part IV. Did Regime Type Influence the Crises’ Outcomes?
Regime Type and War
Regime Type, Deterrence and Third Party Intervention





Historically, territorial borders in Latin America have often been a source of dispute. The origins of most of these border claims dates back to the 19th century, when the majority of the states in the region achieved independence from colonial rule. In the case of the countries colonized by the Spanish empire recognized uti possidetis juris as a basic principle of American international law for settling their borders. According to this principle, every new state inherited the territories that it had possessed under the Spanish crown. However, in remote territories (i.e., those that were claimed by the Spanish crown but never settled by the Spaniards), contradictory claims over jurisdiction overlapped, often without valid nullifications of previous titles.[1] In South America, along with the demarcation of borders came a growing sense of actual or potential territorial dispossession at the hands of neighbouring states,[2] creating a kind of “territory sensitivity.”[3] In addition, the construction of the notion of neighbours as aggressive “others” became an integral part of building distinct national identities, since the populations of Latin American states are characterized more by their commonalities than their differences. This mutual perception of neighbouring states as adversaries and potential enemies shaped many of the relationships among them, leading some of the states to engage in military operations to settle their disputes. These crises offer fertile grounds for understanding conflict escalation and prevention in South America.

The following study develops a structured focused comparison[4] between two South American territorial crises: the Beagle Channel Crisis between Argentina and Chile (1977–1978) and the Cenepa Crisis between Ecuador and Peru (1994–1995).[5]

The most significant disputes between Argentina and Chile were the consequences of territorial divergences. Joined by one of the longest borders in the world (over 5,300 km), the two states have always had difficulty determining their boundaries in a mutually acceptable and stable manner. It was in the mid-1800s when the first of several border disputes broke out.[6] Many of these disputes persisted over long periods of time, but it was the crisis over the Beagle Channel Islands (1977–78) — three tiny islands on the southern tip of South America — that drove these neighbours to the brink of war. The situation escalated to such a degree that the Chilean and Argentine militaries were mobilized on land and sea in the Beagle Channel Zone, and declarations of war were drafted.[7]

The other crisis to be investigated occurred between Peru and Ecuador in 1994– 1995. These states have a long history of fighting each other due to territorial disagreements in the Amazon region. The Cenepa War[8] was the last of a series of militarized clashes that occurred between them. The crisis escalated to war and, although it was brief, the conflict is estimated to have resulted in between 200 and 1,500 casualties.[9] In a few days, 5,000 troops were deployed into the contested region, and all branches of the armed forces of both countries were mobilized.[10]

A comparison between two territorial crises in a subsystem such as South America may be especially interesting for the field of International Relations. Due to their high salience, territorial disputes have been traditionally considered as underlying causes of war.[11] The Beagle Channel, though it was a fully militarized inter-state crisis, did not escalate to war. It was a military dyad, and, for the first time in Latin America since the Treaty of Tordesillas in 1494, there was mediation by the Pope, John Paul II (1978–2005), to settle the conflict. In contrast, the Cenepa Crisis escalated to an intensive, 90-day war, in which a smaller power (Ecuador) attacked a bigger neighbour (Peru). It was a democratic dyad, and there was mediation by four countries: Argentina, Chile, the United States and Brazil. How can the difference in the outcomes of these two cases be explained?

According to democratic peace theory, democracies tend not to go to war with one another. They should be more peaceful among themselves, because they have a greater respect for law and democratic institutions constrain decision making by political leaders. In contrast, non-democratic states are believed to be more warlike, because decision makers do not suffer directly the human consequences of war and, therefore, they are not constrained by a system of check and balances or electoral accountability.[12] However, actual outcomes in the selected cases seem to support what could be called a non-democratic peace. Chile and Argentina were under military rule during the time of the crisis, yet escalation was stopped. In contrast, Peru and Ecuador — two democratic regimes — went to war. In other words, democracies fought each other, whereas military dictatorships reached a peaceful agreement. This suggests that democratic peace theory, and its main hypothesis, “democracy preserves peace,” cannot account for wars between democracies and peace between non-democracies. Moreover, in the Cenepa Crisis, having a democratic regime was not a pacifying condition.

An alternative hypothesis is put forward by deterrence theory,[13] which asserts that a state’s superiority in military capability (and the adversary’s recognition of this superiority) is a sufficient condition for successful deterrence.[14] In the selected cases we have the opposite outcome: Chile was militarily inferior to Argentina, nevertheless, it successfully deterred Argentina from going to war. In contrast, the Ecuadorian armed forces engaged in war even though they had inferior military capability. Hence, despite the theory’s strengths in explaining war initiations, military capability alone is not an appropriate explanation for these crises’ outcomes. As Jack Levy states, it is necessary to compare the costs and benefits of going to war to the costs and benefits of the status quo. What Levy calls the balance of resolve may be more relevant than the balance of military capability for revisionist states.[15] T.V. Paul has also shown the limitations of deterrence theory for explaining war initiation by a weaker state. Indeed, “a weaker power may engage in war without expecting a military victory, contrary to the expectations of deterrence theory.”[16]

From this discussion it is apparent that deterrence theory cannot explain the divergent outcomes in the selected crises. However, this does not mean that deterrence is entirely inappropriate for explaining war between democracies and peace between non- democracies. My contention is that other factors, such as third party interventions and domestic constraints, should be incorporated into a working theory. I hypothesize that a combination of deterrence and mediation was the determining factor in preventing war in the Beagle Channel Crisis. In this case, third party involvement strengthened deterrence. In contrast, failed deterrence and the absence of mediation or other forms of third party intervention during the early phases of the Cenepa Crisis were determinants for the escalation to war.[17] These contrasting outcomes also reflect the impact domestic conditions had on deterrence as well as on the willingness of the contenders to resort to third party involvement.

In the Beagle Channel Crisis, successful deterrence by Chile led to the avoidance of war. That is, Chile made a credible case that a military adventure would be very costly for Argentina. According to Bruce Bueno de Mesquita’s expected-utility theory, a positive expected utility is a necessary condition for war initiation.[18] This condition was not present, as Chile’s clearly manifested readiness to defend the islands increased Argentina’s cost of going to war. However, it was not deterrence alone that prevented war. One state’s commitment to stand firm works only if the other state has the opportunity to retreat.[19] Mediation in this case was a way out of the crisis at a time when neither military government was capable of making concessions to the adversary without losing face. By the time of the papal intervention in December 1978, the conflict over the Beagle Channel had become the primary foreign policy imperative of the Chilean and Argentine governments. Nationalism in both countries made possession of the islands a source of sovereign pride, and the salience of the issue rendered the dispute highly significant to the internal politics of both states. Deferring to mediation enabled both states to save face and, at the same time, avoid war, which was perceived as too costly.

In the Cenepa case, although Peru was militarily more powerful than Ecuador in an aggregate sense, it could not deter Quito from declaring war as soon as an opportunity arose. As David Mares demonstrated, during the 1980s Ecuador developed its military capability, thus surprising Peru, which had to expend significant resources trying to overwhelm Ecuadorian armed forces. Peru was then forced to escalate the crisis further or to negotiate a ceasefire. Peru could not afford the costs of prolonging the war.[20]

Moreover, Peru had allocated many of its armed forces to combat the Shining Path guerilla movement; hence, the strengthening of Ecuador’s military capability did not capture Peru’s attention until it was too late.

If deterrence fails, as in the Cenepa Crisis, mediation or another form of third party intervention could have avoided war. However, in contrast to the Beagle Channel Crisis, when mediation took place prior to serious military clashes, in the Cenepa Crisis, mediation was a reaction to mass violence. In fact, when the first hostilities erupted between Quito and Lima, little effort was made through diplomatic channels to avoid the escalation of the conflict. Here, I contend that the domestic scenarios in Ecuador and Peru restricted the governments from seeking mediation earlier in the process.

To summarize, my argument is based on a combination of deterrence and third party intervention: a) strong deterrence threats accompanied by effective third party intervention can generally prevent crisis escalation to war; in contrast, b) weak deterrence threats and an absence of third party intervention during the early stages of a crisis may lead to war. Domestic conditions comprise an additional variable that mediates the relationship between deterrence and the willingness of the disputants regarding third party involvement.

My research will rely on primary and secondary sources, such as government documents, international agreements, and newspaper articles in Spanish and English. Additional secondary sources will be used to draw on regional expertise and to contextualize the theoretical findings.

In the first part, I will set up the theoretical framework, discussing deterrence theory and third party intervention as tools for war prevention. The second and third parts are devoted to the case studies. I will examine both crises at the international and domestic levels, describing how the actors interacted and how they coped with the crisis. In the fourth part, I will address the issue of regime type: Did regime type have an important influence on the crises’ outcomes? The answer to this question will contribute to further research.

Part I. Theoretical Framework

Deterrence: Success and Failure

The practice of deterrence seems to be as old as the military art.[21] In a general form, deterrence can be defined as the use of threats by one party to convince another party to refrain from initiating some course of action.[22] Thucydides, one of the earliest military writers, reported in his Peloponnesian War about many instances where one side manoeuvred for allies or tried to find ways to make its opponent think that beginning or expanding a war would not be worth the risks or costs.[23] During the following centuries, deterrence tactics remained popular recourses of those fearing attack, but they were not the only, or even the predominant, tactics used, and were not thought of as constituting a true strategy.[24] After World War II, and especially with the onset of the Cold War, deterrence evolved into an elaborate strategy. It was then when the concepts of contemporary deterrence theory began to being articulated in a systematic way.

Glenn Snyder’s influential work made a distinction between the power to hurt and the power to defeat military forces, or deterrence by punishment and deterrence by denial. Deterrence by punishment is a strategy by which governments threaten an immense retaliation if attacked. Aggressors are deterred if they do not wish to suffer such damage as the result of an aggressive action. Deterrence by denial is a strategy whereby a government builds up or maintains defence and intelligence systems with the purported aim of neutralizing or mitigating attacks. Aggressors are deterred if they choose not to act, perceiving the cost of their action to be too high in relation to its likely success.

A policy of deterrence can be directed at preventing an armed attack against a state’s own territory (direct deterrence) or that of another state (extended deterrence). In addition, a deterrence policy might be pursed in response to a short-term threat of attack (immediate deterrence) or more generally to prevent crises and conflicts from arising (general deterrence).[25] According to Patrick Morgan, general deterrence is identified with a situation in which the potential attack is more distant, less defined and even hypothetical, whereas immediate deterrence is associated with specific military capabilities and threats built on them. Immediate deterrence arises in a crisis in which the enemy is clearly defined and the strategy used involves assessing the opponents’ calculations and plans.[26] For the purpose of this study, I will focus on direct-immediate deterrence. As Paul Huth stresses, situations of direct-immediate deterrence often centre on territorial conflicts between neighbouring states in which major powers do not intervene, a situation found in both of the selected crises.[27] From here on, I will use the term deterrence to mean direct-immediate deterrence, unless otherwise indicated.

I will proceed to discuss the conditions under which deterrence is believed to succeed and to fail, as well as the limitations of applying deterrence to avoid war. We must bear in mind two considerations. First, it is necessary to emphasize that there is a difference between deterrence theory and a deterrence strategy: “deterrence strategy refers to the specific military posture, threats, and ways of communicating them that a state adopts to deter, while the theory concerns the underlying principles on which any strategy is to rest.”[28] This study is about deterrence strategy, but it assumes that an overlap with deterrence theory is often present and that the two can, and often must, be used interchangeably when examining real-world situations. Second, many of the findings related to deterrence focus on the action of the defendant (or status quo) state. Nevertheless, some critics have called attention to the actions and perceptions of the attacker (or challenger).[29] Sometimes the roles of defender and challenger can switch during the development of a conflict. A former challenger that achieved some kind of victory might become the defender of the status quo, while the ex-defender will in turn be the one that challenges the new state of affairs. Hence, the perspectives taken together can account for variation in the success or failure of deterrence policies.[30]

Whether wars can be prevented by successful policies of deterrence has been a matter of continuing interest to scholars and decision makers. Questions such as what makes deterrence work and what makes it fail have been addressed by proponents as well as by critics of deterrence theory and practice. The predominant theoretical approach has entailed the use of rational choice and game theory models of decision making.[31]

According to this theory, a deterrent threat will succeed in preventing a challenge if certain conditions are present: first, the leaders of the deterring state clearly define the behaviour deemed to be unacceptable (communication); second, they communicate to challengers a commitment to punish violations or to deny military objectives (commitment); third, they have the capability to make a credible commitment (capability); and fourth, the leaders demonstrate their resolve to carry out military actions if the challenger fails to comply (resolve).[32]

Some aspects related to the four conditions have been underlined as necessary for successful outcomes.[33] For example, scholars have argued that success is more likely if a defender’s deterrent threat is deemed credible by the challenger. There is no consensus in the field on exactly what makes a credible threat. However, there are consistent propositions in four areas: military capabilities, signaling and bargaining behaviour, reputations and interests at stake.[34]

With respect to military capabilities, credibility is present if the defender possesses the force to inflict substantial harm on the attacker in an eventual armed conflict and if the attacker believes that the defender has the resolve to use its armed forces. Thus, to deter successfully, a defending state needs the military capacity to respond quickly to a range of contingencies and to be able to deny the challenger its military objectives at the outset or at very early stages of an armed offensive.[35] An attack will be less likely if the defender’s armed forces in the disputed area are superior to those of the attacker.[36] Here is interesting to note that defenders are often constrained by domestic policy issues in the sense that they cannot implement extensive military preparation early in a crisis, which is when it is most critical.[37] Signaling and bargaining behaviour[38] are likely to succeed if the defender state is able to send costly signals, thereby communicating its resolve. Costly signals are actions and statements that increase the risks of military conflict and the costs of backing down from a deterrent threat, for example, mobilization or deployment of military forces, public announcements, clear and unambiguous threats of retaliation, explicit ultimatums and deadlines.[39] States that are bluffing will be reluctant to pass a certain level of threats and military actions in a crisis for fear of committing themselves to an armed conflict that they do not really want. Against this background, leaders of democratic states should be more capable of communicating credible threats than non-democratic leaders because democratic governments face higher domestic political costs for backing down in a crisis (the political opposition might hold them accountable for such a bluff).[40]

It is generally accepted that reputation does not have a consistent and strong causal effect on the likelihood of deterrence success. Yet, under certain conditions, a potential attacker might draw inferences about the defender from its past behavior. For example, within dyads, states may earn reputations based on past interactions.[41]

Interests at stake refer in general to the fact that when state leaders have vital interests in a dispute, they will be more resolved to use force to defend them.[42] Several studies have shown that disputed territory is particularly salient for national leaders.[43][44]

Despite the likelihood of success, critics of deterrence have convincingly shown that deterrence may fail even if all four conditions are satisfied, and that there are several points at which errors can occur when applying a policy of deterrence.[45] A state’s attempts at deterrence may fail because it misunderstands the other state’s values or perceptions, with the result that the other will not interpret the state’s behavior as it is intended or will not react as expected. In democratic regimes, the necessity of consensus might constrain the state’s freedom of action, which may make it difficult for the state to take advantage of sudden changes in its external environment. Whereas deterrence theory predicts a clear strategy, internal disagreements may produce a lowest common denominator policy that is ambiguous or slow.[46] Deterrence may also fail if the challenger has an option which appears to advance its interests at an acceptable cost–benefit ratio, despite the defenders’ strong and clear commitment.[47] If the challenger is convinced that the use of force is necessary to preserve vital strategic and political interests, the defender’s efforts to demonstrate resolve may prove insufficient to discourage its opponent.[48]

In addition, deterrence may fail due to a miscalculation of the other state’s strength and options. The underestimation of capabilities is an important source of a surprise attack.[49] Related to this aspect deterrence is likely to fail if the side receiving the threats believes that with a quick strike it will be able to change the status quo before the defender can respond effectively (fait accompli).[50] Policy makers might believe that that their country will emerge victorious at little cost if the crisis leads to war.[51] Sometimes the ways in which the status quo can be challenged are very difficult for the defending power to foresee, or they might be non-deterrable.[52] Paul has shown that, under certain conditions, a weaker power may launch an attack against a stronger state, provoking a failure of deterrence.[53] Thus, although deterrence can block escalation, it can also act to the contrary, “stimulating escalation in various ways.”[54]

Given these limitations, Robert Jervis has advised to employ deterrence only when it is both necessary and likely to succeed, and to utilize a range of alternative and complementary diplomatic instruments.[55] Most recent scholars have “advocated making greater use of positive incentives, strategies of reassurance, and diplomatic initiatives to address the underlying sources of tensions.”[56] Diplomatic policies that include elements of accommodation and positive inducements can increase the likelihood of deterrence success.[57] Stern, Axelrod, Jervis and Radner have argued that “threats work better when accompanied by reassurance that concessions will not be followed by public humiliation, additional punishment, or further demands that would cause the other side to lose face.”[58]

In many crises, the status quo power must initially stand firm to convince the other party that its behaviour is unacceptable, but once the other party knows that its basic demands are not going to be granted, the status quo state must offer some concessions, even if they are of a procedural nature, since it is hard for an aggressor to admit total defeat.[59]

However, the issue of concessions and regards is inherently linked to the capacity of the state to negotiate those concessions. This factor is especially important when considering that decision makers must often respond not only to foreign but also to domestic stimuli. Major shifts in policy from conflict to cooperation need sufficient domestic consensus. Political leaders require domestic support for making concessions as well as a cohesive leadership that speaks with one voice to avoid being treated as a traitor who is “selling out national interests.”[60]

States might be hesitant to make concessions or to retreat if their constituencies feel legitimacy is on their side. In situations of high conflict, the status quo state might believe that making concessions to the other side will at best postpone confrontation and at worst strengthen the other side and encourage it to raise new demands.[61] Third party intervention may release a state from this dilemma: rewards and concessions would be given by a third party and not by the state itself. This is consistent with the findings of Beth Simmons, who contends that a domestic political incapacity to negotiate concessions is associated with a commitment to mediate or arbitrate (both forms of third party involvement). Even if mediation produces the same terms as political compromise, some domestic groups will find it more attractive to make concessions to a third party than to the adversary. “The former sends a cooperative signal, whereas the latter is likely to signal weakness.”[62]

There are other considerations that support the idea of third party involvement as a complementary device to deterrence, especially if we conceive war prevention as a valuable goal. One reason, already discussed, is that deterrence is unreliable and may fail even if all four conditions are implemented. In such a case, the defender has to make a choice whether to back down or to resist the attacker’s move.[63] Third party intervention can contain escalation by offering a better settlement than would be available by using force. A second reason is that deterrence can only work if one or both parties have the possibility of backing down. Jervis contends that this situation resembles the chicken game: “committing oneself to stand firm works only if the other can retreat.”[64] If the adversary is unwilling or unable to back down, deterrence can lead to war.[65]

To sum up, deterrence strategy can succeed if the defending state has the capacity, resolve and credibility to respond quickly and effectively to a range of contingencies. It must be able to deny the challenger its military objectives at the outset or at very early stages of an armed offensive. In general, it is presumed that leaders of democratic states should be better at deterrence than non-democratic leaders. However, the necessity of consensus may constrain a democracy’s freedom of action, which, in turn, can make it difficult for the state to take advantage of sudden changes in its external environment. In this sense, military dictatorships might be better at deterring than democracies. As the military and the government are one and the same, they should be able to send costly signals at the very outset of a militarized crisis, thereby communicating their resolve in a coherent and consequent form.

However, as seen in the previous discussion, even when all conditions are in place, deterrence may nonetheless fail because there are several points at which errors can occur. Failure can occur due to miscalculations of one’s own military capacities, or simply because the challenger is non-deterrable. If the challenger considers that the costs of the status quo are higher than those of warfare, it will challenge the status quo despite a strong and credible commitment by the defender.

Due to the unreliability of deterrence strategy, I contend that in order to prevent war, a way out of a crisis must be considered. At the beginning of a crisis, resorting to third party intervention can strengthen deterrence; should the crisis escalate, a third party can provide an honorable and face-saving way out of the conflict.

Third Party Intervention and War Prevention

Third party intervention involves a person or team of people who become engaged in a conflict to help the disputing parties manage or resolve it.[66] There are many instruments of third party intervention, which are referred to in the literature by different names and categories. I will use the typology of William Dixon,[67] which, due to its clarity, is especially useful for the purpose of this study.[68]

The first category, public appeals, refers to resolutions and appeals directed at the disputants. The commitment required by the agent is minimal but not entirely fruitless since the contenders and their allies may invest considerable time and effort in preventing the adoption of unfavorable draft resolutions. Communication, the second category, comprises all the activities that facilitate communication between the parties, ranging from the provision of good offices to the enunciation of issues. Mediation is the third type, and it implies drafting and promoting plans for conflict resolution. Observation encompasses fact-finding and field investigation. Intervention refers to any direct physical presence by a managing agent, including peacekeeping missions or any attempt at coercion, such as embargoes, quarantines or military assistance. The sixth category, humanitarian aid, is a form of intervention, because food, medicine and clothes distributed in a conflict area may help reduce tension and anxieties. The final type is adjudication, which is a form of management practiced exclusively by international judicial bodies.[69] In this last category, I include arbitration. Dixon argues that arbitration is a form of mediation. However, there is a difference between the two: arbitrators examine written materials and other evidence relating to a case and then make a determination of who is right and who is wrong or how a conflict should be settled. The decision is binding and cannot be appealed. In contrast, mediators usually help the parties develop a common understanding of the situation, which often yields a solution that satisfies the interests of all parties. While some mediators take a stronger role than others, mediators do not have the power to impose solutions. At most, they can suggest solutions, which the disputants may or may not accept.[70]

There is no consensus in the literature about how to measure third party interventions or about what constitutes successful or unsuccessful interventions. Some researchers have defined success as a situation in which third parties are accepted, others as when a ceasefire, a partial settlement or a full settlement is reached.[71] Marieke Kleiboer correctly argues that the problem with such definitions is that they are not well- suited to the complexities of international diplomacy and that they are too broad and leave room for many different outcome assessments.[72] Whatever criteria are applied, success cannot be measured using only cases in which military confrontation has already started. For example, the oft-cited empirical study of successful mediation by Berkovitch, Anagnoson and Wille is based on a dataset encompassing only armed conflicts which resulted in at least 100 fatalities.[73] It does not consider cases, such as the Beagle Channel Crisis, in which escalation was successfully stopped through third party intervention. Although the question of how to measure the success of third party involvement is beyond the scope of the present study, it is important to note that intervention can be a tool for war prevention and therefore, escalatory transitions should be taken into account.

Inherently linked to this debate is the timing of third party involvements. Considerations of timing have lead to the concept of ripeness, which refers to the condition of the conflict and to the right time of intervention.[74] Conflicts pass through different phases, and certain stages are more amenable to intervention than others. Some authors argue that a feeling of emergency increases the disputants’ motivation to moderate their intransigence and revise their expectations, therefore, intervention should occur not at the beginning of the conflict but at a later phase.[75] Others argue that mediation should be offered at an early stage, before the adversaries cross a threshold of violence and begin to inflict heavy loses on each other.[76] For example, William Zartman makes the case that states are likely to recur to third parties only after they have exhausted themselves to the point of a costly deadlock from which they see no exit. According to him, outside intervention is more likely to be effective at later rather than earlier stages of conflict escalation.[77] Berkovitch, Anagnoson and Wille’s empirical findings also strongly support a late entrance. However, as discussed above, they do not consider cases in which there was no military violence.[78] In general, the problem with this kind of argumentation is that is does not consider warfare as avoidable. Moreover, it suggests third parties, as well as contenders, should wait until violence take place, thereby underestimating the danger that events might get out of control and the conflict may become intractable.

In contrast, authors such as Jeffrey Rubin contend that there are many “ripe moments” for intervention during a conflict. Rather than waiting for impending catastrophes, third parties should look for ways to create ripeness, regardless of the stage of the conflict.[79] Dixon makes the point that precisely because conflicts are not static situations and involve some measure of interaction between the parties, there are numerous opportunities for transformation. Hence, escalation is not inevitable and third parties can serve in numerous ways to slow or divert the escalatory process.[80] These positions are all compatible with the idea of third party intervention as a tool for war prevention. As Schrodt and Gerner have shown, the term crisis phase has emerged as a key aspect of preventive diplomacy because a conflict in its early stages (before the outbreak of military hostilities) can be contained by diplomatic means more easily than in later periods.[81] In the same sense, Dixon’s comprehensive empirical study (which included cases without military violence) showed that even public appeals, when compared with the overall rate of escalation outcomes and especially with the rate during phases lacking any sort of third party management effort, seem to have some success in preventing escalation.[82] Communication, on the other hand, reduces the chances of escalation to about half of what it would be otherwise be, and mediation can also contribute to containing escalation.[83]

In the following paragraphs, I will focus on mediation since it was the mechanism used in the early stages of Beagle Channel Crisis (Argentina vs. Chile) and it was also employed at a later stage to put an end to the Cenepa War (Ecuador vs. Peru).[84] Additionally, mediation is the most effective conflict management technique for preventing escalation and promoting peaceful settlements. Adjudication, for its part, is quite successful in promoting peaceful settlements, but it does not have a noticeable effect on escalations.[85] disputes by an international treaty (Convention for the Pacific Settlement of International Disputes) adopted in 1907. This Convention specifically recognizes mediation and other forms of third party involvement as valid instruments of international law. In 1948, this obligation was reinforced by OAS members’ through the signing of the Treaty of Bogotá. See "Convention for the Pacific Settlement of International Disputes," (The Hague, Netherlands: 1907). Also "Tratado Americano de Soluciones Pacificas: PACTO DE BOGOTÁ," (Bogotá, Colombia: 1948).


[1] Carlos Escude, "Argentine Territorial Nationalism,"Journal of Latin American Studies 20, no. 1 (May 1998), p. 147.

[2] Andrea Oelsner, International Relations in Latin America: Peace and Security in the Southern Cone (New York: Routledge, 2005), p. 106.

[3] Escude, "Argentine Territorial Nationalism," p. 152.

[4] Alexander L. George and Richard Smoke, Deterrence in American Foreign Policy: Theory and Practice (New York: Columbia University Press, 1974), p. 67.

[5] As understood in this study, an international crisis involves “(1) a change in type and/or increase in intensity of disruptive, that is hostile verbal or physical, interactions between two or more states, with a heightened probability of military hostilities: that in turn, (2) destabilizes their relationship and challenges the structure of an international system – global, dominant, or subsystem.” Michael Brecher and Jonathan Wilkenfeld, A Study of Crisis (Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 2000), pp. 4-5.

[6] This first border dispute was due to the fact that both states claimed the totality of Patagonia.

[7] Oelsner, International Relations in Latin America: Peace and Security in the Southern Cone, p. 105.

[8] In this study I define interstate war, based on the definition from the ICB Project, as an international crisis in which a state is involved in direct military activity that results in violence. See "International Crisis Behaviour Project," Center for International Development and Conflict Management, http://www.cidcm.umd.edu/icb/

[9] Beth A. Simmons, "Territorial Disputes and their Resolution: The Case of Ecuador and Peru," Peaceworks 27 (April 1999), p. 12.

[10] Ibid. p. 12.

[11]Paul Huth, "Why Are Territorial Disputes Between States a Central Cause of International Conflict?," in What Do We Know About War, ed. John Vasquez (Oxford: Rowman & Littlefield, 2000); John Vasquez, "What Do We Know About War?," in What Do We Know About War?, ed. John Vasquez (Oxford: Rowman & Littlefield, 2000); Stuart Bremer, "Who Fights Whom, When, Where and Why," in What Do We Know About War, ed. John Vasquez (Oxford: Rowman & Littlefield, 2000); K. J. Holsti, Peace and War: Armed Conflicts and International Order 1648-1989 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991).

[12] For support of democratic peace theory, see John M. Owen, "How Liberalism Produces Democratic Peace,"International Security 19, no. 2 (Fall 1994); Bruce Bueno de Mesquita et al., "An Institutional Explanation of the Democratic Peace,"American Political Science Review 93, no. 4 (December 1999); Bruce Russett and Harvey Starr, "From Democratic Peace to Kantian Peace," in Handbook of War Studies II, ed. Manus I. Midlarsky (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2000).

[13] In its most general form, deterrence means the persuasion of one’s opponent that the costs and/or risks of a given action outweigh its benefits. See George and Smoke, Deterrence in American Foreign Policy: Theory and Practice p. 11. (The concept will be further developed in the section Theoretical Framework)

[14] T.V. Paul, Asymmetric Conflicts: War Initiation by Weaker Powers (Cambridge, New York: Cambridge University Press, 1994), p. 8.

[15] Jack Levy, "The Causes of War: A Review of Theories and Evidence," in Behaviour, Society and Nuclear War, ed. Philip E. Tetlock et. Al. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1989)p. 242.

[16] Paul, Asymmetric Conflicts: War Initiation by Weaker Powers, p. 9.

[17] Mediation is a form of third party intervention in which a mediator or facilitator aims to assist the disputants in reaching an agreement (this concept will be further developed in the section Theoretical Framework).

[18] Expected-utility theory is based on five core assumptions: 1. individual decision makers are rational in that they are capable of prioritizing their alternatives; 2. the order of preferences is transitive; 3. individuals are conscientious of the intensity of their preferences, that is, they know their utility; 4. individuals consider alternative means of achieving desirable goals in terms of the product of the probability of achieving alternative results and the utility associated with those outcomes; and 5. decision makers will always select the strategy that yields the highest expected utility. See Bruce Bueno de Mesquita, "The Contribution of Expected-Utility Theory to the Study of International Conflict," in Handbook of War Studies, ed. Manus I. Midlarsky (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1993), p. 144.

[19] Robert Jervis, "Deterrence Theory Revisited,"World Politics 31, no. 2 (Jan., 1979), p. 308.

[20] David Mares, Violent Peace: Militarized Interstate Bargaining in Latin America (New York, Columbia: University Press, 2001), p.171.

[21] George and Smoke, Deterrence in American Foreign Policy: Theory and Practice p. 11.

[22]Paul Huth, "Deterrence and International Conflict: Empirical Findings and Theoretical Debates,"Annual Review of Political Science 2 (1999). See p. 26.

[23] George and Smoke, Deterrence in American Foreign Policy: Theory and Practice p. 12.

[24] Patrick M. Morgan, Deterrence Now, Cambridge Studies in International Relations; 89 (Cambridge; New York Cambridge University Press, 2003) p. 3. For more about deterrence history, see George and Smoke, Deterrence in American Foreign Policy: Theory and Practice.

[25]Huth, "Deterrence and International Conflict: Empirical Findings and Theoretical Debates," p. 27.

[26] Morgan, Deterrence Now, pp. 80-82.

[27] Huth, "Deterrence and International Conflict: Empirical Findings and Theoretical Debates," p. 27

[28] Morgan, Deterrence Now, p. 8.

[29] See, for example, Initiation Theory, developed by George and Smoke in Deterrence in American Foreign Policy: Theory and Practice. They emphasize the challenger’s behaviour and not the defender’s action as the dependent variable.

[30] Paul C. Stern et al., "Deterrence in the Nuclear Age: The Search for Evidence," in Perspectives on Deterrence, ed. Paul C. Stern, et al. (New York, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989), p. 18. According to Patrick Morgan, the distinction between challenger and defender is useful for theoretical purposes, but it breaks down in actual deterrence situations. “Often, both parties feel victimized, innocent, and justified, and thus both feel as if they are the defenders.” See Patrick M. Morgan, "Deterrence, Escalation, and Negotiation," in Escalation and Negotiation in International Conflicts, ed. I. William Zartman and Guy Olivier Faure (Cambridge, New York, Melbourne, Madrid, Cape Town, Singapore, Sao Paulo: Cambridge University Press, 2005), pp. 54, 55.

[31] Huth, "Deterrence and International Conflict: Empirical Findings and Theoretical Debates," p. 29.

[32] Frank P. Harvey, "Rigor Mortis or Rigor, More Tests: Necessity, Sufficiency and Deterrence Logic,"International Studies Quarterly 42, no. 4 (1998), p. 676. But, as Paul Huth argues, a successful policy of deterrence must be understood in both political and military terms. Militarily, immediate deterrence success implies preventing state leaders who have already threatened force in a crisis from escalating to war, while at the same time the defender state must be able to resist the political demands of the challenger. If war is avoided at the price of diplomatic concessions to the maximum demands of the potential attacker, then it is not possible to talk about deterrence success. See Huth, "Deterrence and International Conflict: Empirical Findings and Theoretical Debates," p. 28.

[33] According to Frank Harvey, some conditions are less important than others. The least important is commitment, whereas the most crucial seems to be communication. Cf. Harvey, "Rigor Mortis or Rigor, More Tests: Necessity, Sufficiency and Deterrence Logic," p. 690.

[34] Huth, "Deterrence and International Conflict: Empirical Findings and Theoretical Debates," p. 29.

[35] Ibid. pp. 29, 30. The capacity to demonstrate resolve is intensified when leaders of the defender state are able to mobilize a large military force. See Harvey, "Rigor Mortis or Rigor, More Tests: Necessity, Sufficiency and Deterrence Logic," p. 705.

[36] Paul Huth and Bruce Russett, "What Makes Deterrence Work? Cases from 1900–1980,"World Politics 36, no. 4 (July 1984), p. 509.

[37] Huth, "Deterrence and International Conflict: Empirical Findings and Theoretical Debates," p. 36.

[38] Crisis bargaining enhances all actions taken by one state to influence the behavior of another over the course of a dispute. See Russell J. Leng, Bargaining and Learning in Recurring Crises: the Soviet- American, Egyptian-Israeli, and Indo-Pakistani Rivalries (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2000) p. 5.

[39] Harvey, "Rigor Mortis or Rigor, More Tests: Necessity, Sufficiency and Deterrence Logic," p. 676.

[40] Huth, "Deterrence and International Conflict: Empirical Findings and Theoretical Debates," p. 31.

[41] Ibid. p. 42.

[42] Ibid. p. 34.


[43] Ibid. p. 40.

[45] Jervis, "Deterrence Theory Revisited," p. 305

[46] Ibid. p. 312.

[47] George and Smoke, Deterrence in American Foreign Policy: Theory and Practice, p. 526.

[48] Richard Ned Lebow, "Deterrence: A Political and Psychological Critique," in Perspectives on Deterrence, ed. Paul C. Stern, et al. (New York, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989), p. 39.

[49] Jervis, "Deterrence Theory Revisited," p. 305-307. Also Patrick M. Morgan, Deterrence: a Conceptual Analysis, Sage Library of Social Research. v. 40 (Beverly Hills: Sage Publications, 1983), p. 174.

[50] Stern et al., "Deterrence in the Nuclear Age: The Search for Evidence," p. 20. Mearsheimer argues that in a crisis, if one side has the capability to launch a blitzkrieg, deterrence is likely to be unsuccessful. See John Mearsheimer, Conventional Deterrence (Ithaca, London: Cornell University Press, 1983), p. 203.

[51] Lebow, "Deterrence: A Political and Psychological Critique," p. 27.

[52] George and Smoke, Deterrence in American Foreign Policy: Theory and Practice, p. 525.

[53] There are four conditions prior to war initiation by a weaker power: “1) the presence of a serious conflict of interests; 2) the weaker side values higher the issue in dispute; 3) the weaker side is dissatisfied with the status quo; and 4) the weaker side fears a deterioration from, or no change in, the status quo in the future”. See Paul, Asymmetric Conflicts: War Initiation by Weaker Powers, p. 20.

[54] Introducing deterrence in a low-level conflict can be, in itself, an escalatory step, and the target state may face the possibility that not attacking is evidence of weakness, which might lead it to react in a harmful way just to show it cannot be threatened. See Morgan, "Deterrence, Escalation, and Negotiation," pp. 65, 66.

[55] Jervis, "Deterrence Theory Revisited," p. 323. Also Morgan, "Deterrence, Escalation, and Negotiation," p. 66.

[56] Jeffrey W. Knopf, "Three Items in One: Deterrence as Concept, Research Program, and Political Issue," in Conference on Deterrence: A Complex Paradigm (Montreal, Canada: May 2007), p. 22.

[57] Huth, "Deterrence and International Conflict: Empirical Findings and Theoretical Debates," p. 38.

[58] Stern et al., "Deterrence in the Nuclear Age: The Search for Evidence," p. 22. Also Morgan, "Deterrence, Escalation, and Negotiation," p.75.

[59] Jervis, "Deterrence Theory Revisited," p. 304-305. See also Russell J. Leng, "Reciprocating Influence Strategies in Interstate Crisis Bargaining,"The Journal of Conflict Resolution 37, no. 1 (March 1993).

[60] Karin Aggestam, "Enhancing Ripeness: Transition from Conflict to Negotiation," in Escalation and Negotiation in International Conflicts, ed. I. William Zartman and Guy Faure (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), pp. 275, 276.

[61] Jervis, "Deterrence Theory Revisited," p. 296.

[62] Beth A. Simmons, "Capacity Commitment, and Compliance: International Institutions and Territorial Disputes,"The journal of Conflict Resolution 46, no. 6 (December 2002).

[63] Huth and Russett, "What Makes Deterrence Work? Cases from 1900–1980," p. 520.

[64] Robert Jervis, "Deterrence Theory Revisited," Ibid.31, no. 2 (Jan., 1979), p. 308.

[65] Richard Ned Lebow, Between Peace and War: The Nature of International Crisis (Baltimore, London: The John Hopkins University Press, 1981) p. 264. Patrick Morgan makes the case that for some personalities, considerations of pride and ego (personal or national) can make retreat in the face of threats unacceptable. See Morgan, Deterrence: a Conceptual Analysis, pp. 154, 155.

[66] "International Online Training Program On Intractable Conflict: Third Party Intervention," Conflict Research Consortium University of Colorado, USA, http://www.colorado.edu/conflict/peace/treatment/3ptyint.htm.

[67] Dixon uses a variation of the typology developed by Kjell Skjelsbaeck. See William J. Dixon, "Third- party Techniques for Preventing Conflict Escalation and Promoting Peaceful Settlement,"International Organization 50, no. 4 (Autumn 1996), p. 658.

[68] A different typology is used by Ronald J. Fisher, "Methods of Third Party Intervention,"Berhof Handbook for Conflict Transformation (June 2001). He makes a distinction between “pure mediation” and “power mediation,” a difference that is very difficult to recognize in advance. Pure mediation refers to a situation in which third party works as a facilitator, whereas power mediation goes beyond this as the mediator can use coercion to reach a settlement and is also the guarantor of the agreement reached.

[69] Dixon, "Third-party Techniques for Preventing Conflict Escalation and Promoting Peaceful Settlement," p. 658.

[70] "International Online Training Program on Intractable Conflict: Third Party Intervention."

[71] Jacob Bercovitch et al., "Some Conceptual Issues and Empirical Trends in the Study of Successful Mediation in International Relations,"Journal of Peace Research 28, no. 1 (1991), p. 8.

[72] Marieke Kleiboer, "Understanding Success and Failure of International Mediation,"The Journal of Conflict Resolution 40, no. 2 (June 1996), pp. 361, 362.

[73] Bercovitch et al., "Some Conceptual Issues and Empirical Trends in the Study of Successful Mediation in International Relations," p. 9.

[74] Fisher, "Methods of Third Party Intervention," p. 22. See also I. William Zartman, Ripe for Resolution: Conflict and Intervention in Africa (New York: Oxford University Press, 1989).

[75] See Michael S. Lund, Preventing Violent Conflicts: a Strategy for Preventive Diplomacy (Washington, D.C.: United States Institute of Peace Press, 1996), p. 87.

[76] Kleiboer, "Understanding Success and Failure of International Mediation," pp. 362,363.

[77] Zartman, Ripe for Resolution: Conflict and Intervention in Africa, p. 272.

[78] Bercovitch et al., "Some Conceptual Issues and Empirical Trends in the Study of Successful Mediation in International Relations," p. 12.

[79] Jeffrey Z. Rubin, "The Timing of Ripeness and the Ripeness of Timing," in Timing the De-escalation of International Conflicts, ed. Louis Kriesberg and Stuart J. Thorson (Syracuse: University Press, 1991), pp. 238-240.

[80] Dixon, "Third-party Techniques for Preventing Conflict Escalation and Promoting Peaceful Settlement," p. 655.

[81] Philip A. Schrodt and Deborah J. Gerner, "Empirical Indicators of Crisis Phase in the Middle East, 1979- 1995,"Journal of Conflict Resolution 49 (1997), pp. 530, 531.

[82] Dixon, "Third-party Techniques for Preventing Conflict Escalation and Promoting Peaceful Settlement," p. 664.

[83] Ibid. p. 667.

[84] South American countries, among others, are committed to the pacific settlement of international

[85] Dixon, "Third-party Techniques for Preventing Conflict Escalation and Promoting Peaceful Settlement," p. 671.


ISBN (eBook)
File size
1.6 MB
Catalog Number
Non-Democratic Peace South America




Title: Non-Democratic Peace in South America