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The Regional Dimension of Peace and Security and the Role of Regional Organizations in Peaceful Conflict Management.

Christian Altpeter
Department of Peace and Conflict Research
Christian Altpeter
Department of Peace and Conflict Research
Open Panel

Abstract

The objective of the paper is to analyse the relationship between two remarkable trends in in-ternational relations since the early 1990s: the growing number of regional organizations with security functions and the overall decrease in the number of armed conflicts. The increase in regional bodies and arrangements is closely related to the profound changes of the international system since the end of bipolarity. In the emerging multipolar order, regions and regional organisations have become important elements in a multi-layered international system. Compared to the Cold War, regional dynamics have gained a significant degree of auton-omy. In particular, the regional dimension has become more independent with regard to peace and security issues. Not least therefore, Acharya speaks of “regiopolarity” when referring to the new world order (2009). During the same period, the number of armed conflicts has declined considerably. Moreover, conflicts increasingly tend to end through negotiations and peace agreements, indicating the influence of third parties in the settlement processes. Assuming that the regional level displays significant peace and security relations, it is argued that regional organizations have the potential to provide the institutional framework, the legitimacy and the capacity to settle armed conflicts peacefully. Designed as a large-n study and using datasets from the Uppsala Conflict Data Program, the analysis shows the extent to what regional organizations have been involved conflict manage-ment. It identifies various trends over time, for different regions and actors and not least the means of conflict management employed by regional organizations.