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Hello, goodbye: When do states withdraw from international organizations?

von Borzyskowski, I; Vabulas, F; (2019) Hello, goodbye: When do states withdraw from international organizations? The Review of International Organizations , 14 (2) pp. 335-366. 10.1007/s11558-019-09352-2. Green open access

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Abstract

Under what conditions do states withdraw from intergovernmental organizations (IGOs)? Recent events such as Brexit, the US withdrawal from UNESCO, and US threats to withdraw from NAFTA, NATO, and the World Trade Organization have triggered widespread concern because they appear to signify a backlash against international organizations. Some observers attribute this recent surge to increasing nationalism. But does this explanation hold up as a more general explanation for IGO withdrawals across time and space? Despite many studies of why states join IGOs, we know surprisingly little about when and why states exit IGOs. We use research on IGO accession to derive potential explanations for IGO withdrawal related to domestic politics, IGO characteristics, and geo-politics. We quantitatively test these potential explanations for withdrawal using an original dataset of 493 IGOs since 1945, documenting about 200 cases of withdrawal. We find that nationalism is not the key driver of IGO withdrawals in the past. Instead, we show that geo-political factors – such as preference divergence and contagion – are the main factors linked to IGO withdrawals, followed by democracy levels in the country and organization. These findings have important implications for research on the vitality of international organizations, compliance, and the liberal world order.

Type: Article
Title: Hello, goodbye: When do states withdraw from international organizations?
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1007/s11558-019-09352-2
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11558-019-09352-2
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Political Science
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10081834
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