This article is concerned with groups of states that do not fight each other and, moreover, hold stable expectations that war between them is unlikely to occur in the future. Such no-war communities can be seen as a particular, minimalist form of the concept of international security communities as coined by Karl Deutsch and further developed by Emanuel Adler and Michael Barnett. The security community literature has identified several potential communities across the globe but failed to offer a conclusive explanation for how these emerged because, as I shall argue, insufficient attention has been paid to the domestic conditions of state capacity. This article proposes an alternative path to community in which a lack of state capacity forms the common knowledge foundation between states. Under certain conditions, a low level of capacity to fight can assure states of their common desire to avoid war and gives rise to mutual recognition and toleration. I demonstrate the argument based on two cases that have commonly been seen as the most likely candidates for security communities beyond Europe, the regions of South America and Southeast Asia.
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Deutsch (1961: 103) referred once in a book chapter to the term no-war community, where ‘the only command expected and backed by […] sanctions is the command not to resort to war or large-scale violence in the settlement of disputes’. Contrary to what I call no-war community, however, in Deutsch’s no-war communities ‘the possibility of war is still expected and to some extent preparations are made for it’. However, the term has not been applied in Deutsch’s studies and failed to be taken up elsewhere in the literature.
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I am deeply grateful to Chris Reus-Smit, Nick Wheeler, Pascal Vennesson and Emanuel Adler for their feedback and guidance on this research. Valuable comments on the manuscript were provided by the participants of the panel ‘Exploring the regional peace in East Asia and beyond’ at ISA’s Annual Convention in Atlanta 2016, for which I am thankful. I also thank Kamil Hazbún Muñoz for his research assistance and the anonymous reviewers for their contributions.
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Jenne, N. The domestic origins of no-war communities. J Int Relat Dev 24, 196–225 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1057/s41268-020-00188-7
- Interstate conflict
- No-war community
- Security community
- State capacity
- South America
- Southeast Asia