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Organizing DemocracyHow International Organizations Assist New Democracies$

Paul Poast and Johannes Urpelainen

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780226543345

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226543512.001.0001

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Forming, Remodeling, and Reforming

Forming, Remodeling, and Reforming

Expanding the Evidence and Implications

(p.159) Chapter Seven Forming, Remodeling, and Reforming
Organizing Democracy

Paul Poast

Johannes Urpelainen

University of Chicago Press

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter offers further qualitative evidence on the link between new democracies and IO formation and demonstrates the broader applicability of our theory. The chapter begins by describing the experiences of the Caribbean states, primarily Barbados, in forming CARIFTA and of the Southern Cone states, primarily Uruguay, in forming Mercosur. Both cases are clear examples of the mechanism highlighted throughout the book: democratizing states creating brand-new IOs. Moreover, both cases continue to illustrate how this process is assisted by established democracies. Canada, the United States, and Britain assisted CARIFTA, while the established democracies of the EU supported Mercosur. Next, the chapter moves to a case of remodeling and a case of reforming. Remodeling will be illustrated by the South African Development Community, while reforming will be illustrated by the OAS and its Unit for Democracy Promotion. Overall, these cases show how the IOs offered technical and material assistance in the provision of public goods. IO membership is not a panacea, but IOs do increase the odds of democratic consolidation.

Keywords:   shadow case studies, OAS, MERCOSUR, CARIFTA, SADC, SADCC, Barbados, Uruguay, Unit for Democracy Promotion

The previous chapter identified, within the Baltic states following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the processes linking democratization with IO creation, with IO membership, and with progress toward democratic consolidation. This chapter continues the analysis in a manner that shows the broader applicability of our theory. It does so in two ways.

First, the chapter will broaden the geographic scope of our evidence by showing how our theory extends to cases beyond postcommunist democratic transitions in Europe. This is done by considering case studies in the Americas and in sub-Saharan Africa. These cases are not intended to offer deep analysis of our theory but instead to offer points of comparison to the Baltic case.1 The analysis of two very different regional contexts, both from the perspective of regional organizations and from the perspective of countries, allows us to probe the generalizability of our argument. Because we are discussing multiple instances of democratization across two continents, these cases are necessarily less detailed than our analysis of BALTBAT. But sacrificing some precision and depth allows us to demonstrate the wider applications of our theoretical claims.

Second, the chapter will show the broader meaning of forming “new” IOs. Our discussion up to this point has focused on democratizing states creating entirely new IOs. This is indeed still the central mechanism of our theory, but there are two additional ways in which democratization can induce the creation of “new” organizations that assist with democratic consolidation: remodeling and reforming existing IOs. First, the democratizing states can remodel an existing IO to better serve their needs. Remodeling entails effectively creating a new IO, but doing so on the (p.160) infrastructure of an existing IO (hence, the term “remodel” can be taken literally, as this process can entail changing the sign on the front of the existing IO’s secretariat building). Relative to the existing IO that it replaces, the new IO better serves the needs of the democratizing states. Second, reforming is when an existing IO undergoes changes that give it a markedly new mission, namely one that serves the needs of democratizing states. In some respects, this was the experience of NATO following the Cold War.

The chapter begins by describing the experiences of the Caribbean states, primarily Barbados, in forming CARIFTA and of the Southern Cone states, primarily Uruguay, in forming Mercosur. Both cases are clear examples of the mechanism highlighted throughout the book: democratizing states creating brand-new IOs. Moreover, both cases continue to illustrate how this process is assisted by established democracies. Canada, the United States, and Britain assisted CARIFTA, while the established democracies of the EU supported Mercosur. Next, we will move to a case of remodeling and a case of reforming. Remodeling will be illustrated by the experience of the southern African states in converting the Southern African Development Coordination Conference into the South African Development Community. Reforming will be illustrated by how the existence of new democracies throughout the Americas induced Canada, an established democracy, to alter the mission of the OAS. The OAS’s newly established Unit for Democracy Promotion provided a host of democracy assistance programs, from election monitoring to instruction on parliamentary procedures, that were in short supply within these democratizing states. Overall, these cases show how the IOs offered technical and material assistance in the provision of public goods. IO membership is not a panacea, but IOs do increase the odds of democratic consolidation.

Forming New IOs

The first path by which IOs can be constructed to serve the needs of democratizing states is for those states, with the assistance of established democracies, to create wholly new IOs. This is well illustrated by two specific cases of democratization prior to the early 1990s: Barbados in 1966 and Uruguay in 1985. Both cases illustrate the microfoundations of our theory well. While there are notable differences between the two cases—Barbados, like the Baltic states, was a young democracy that had acquired (p.161) independence from an imperial power, while Uruguay’s democratic regime emerged from years of military rule—both cases identify how the political leadership viewed IO creation as a tool for assisting democratic consolidation. Indeed, table 7.1 shows how both countries formed a number of new IOs during the early years of democratization (and also gained membership in a number of existing IOs).

Table 7.1 IO memberships gained during first five years of democratization, Barbados and Uruguay

Barbados IO Memberships (1966 –1971)

Newly formed IOs

Agency for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America

Caribbean Development Bank (CDB)

Caribbean Free Trade Association (CARIFTA)

United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO)

Existing IOs that Barbados joined

Commonwealth Education Liaison Committee

Commonwealth Secretariat (ComSec)

Food and Agriculture Organization

General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT)

International Labour Organization

International Maritime Organization (IMO)

International Monetary Fund

International Telecommunication Union

Organization of American States

United Nations

United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)

Universal Postal Union

World Meteorological Organization

World Health Organization

Uruguay IO Memberships (1985–1990)

Newly formed IOs


Inter-American Investment Corporation

Rio Group

Existing IOs that Uruguay joined

Ibero-American Office of Education

International Exhibitions Bureau

International Telecommunications Satellite Organization (INTELSAT)

International Vine and Wine Office

Latin American Civil Aviation Commission (LACAC)

Latin Union

(p.162) Notable predemocratization IO memberships

General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT)

Inter-American Development Bank

International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (World Bank)

International Financial Corporation

International Labour Organization

International Monetary Fund


United Nations

By “initial,” we mean membership is gained within the first five years of beginning democratization.

(*) Officially created in March 1991.

Neither Barbados nor Uruguay were isolated instances of democratization. In both cases, they were part of a cluster of democratizing states: Barbados was one of several Caribbean countries that gained independence from Britain in the 1960s, while Uruguay was one of several South American countries that transitioned from military rule during the 1980s. Hence, the discussion of either case must inevitably address the larger regional context and how each state sought to cooperate with its democratizing neighbors. This means each case enables us to explore the role of IO creation in two broad waves of democratization in the Americas: in the Caribbean during the 1960s and in South America in the 1980s.

Barbados and CARIFTA

Barbados was not an isolated instance of democratization. It was part of a cluster of democratization, as one of several Caribbean countries that became independent from Britain in the 1960s. Hence, we address the larger regional context and how Barbados sought to cooperate with its democratizing neighbors. Prior to gaining independence in 1966, Barbados had a long history with democratic institutions: the House of Assembly was formed in 1639, mass political parties emerged in the 1930s, and full adult suffrage was established in 1950 (Will 1989, 323). Barbados achieved a viable multiparty system in 1955 with the emergence of the Democratic Labour Party as a major competitor to the Barbados Labour Party (Best-Winfield 2006). Hence, Barbados was a democracy upon independence.2

(p.163) But being a democracy at independence was no guarantee of democracy’s continuance.3 First, since Barbados was only granted full internal autonomy in 1961, it remained unclear at independence how the country’s institutions would function and survive without British control of policy. Second, there was the personality factor in Barbadian politics, namely that personal leadership, reinforced by charismatic appeal, had long been an important component of governance (Will 1989, 322). The island’s small population (less than 250,000) heightened the ability of political leadership to be intertwined with personal factors (Will 1989, 322). When combined with the nationalist fervor associated with independence, conditions were ripe for a personalistic dictatorship to emerge in the guise of single-party rule.

Third and most important, Barbados faced economic challenges. Unlike Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, and Guyana, Barbados had little mineral wealth (only very small amounts of oil) (Will 1981, 136). Key economic interests, notably the planter-merchant lobby, feared that independence could remove access to markets throughout the Caribbean (Cox-Alomar 2004, 675–76).4 W. Melvin Will, an expert on the political development of Barbados, observed how retaining these interests’ support was critical to the long-term survival of the democratic leadership: “Domestic political support, whether from youthful potential black power advocates who comprise nearly a majority of the Barbarian population as well as 75 percent of its unemployed, or from the increasingly ‘threatened’ white business elites, is won or lost primarily as a result of perceived economic performance” (Will 1981, 141). One commentator spoke of the “old British principle that fitness for self-government was to be demonstrated by indicating a capacity for economic viability” (Lewis 1993, 101).

Forming supranational organizations was perceived by the Barbadian leadership as instrumental to becoming an independent state with a viable democratic regime. As observed by one analyst, “Faced with an urgent need to export labor and create industry in a relatively homogeneous and culturally united island, Barbadians are probably the most interested in some form of West Indian economic integration” (Segal 1968, 70). This mirrored wider regional concerns. The same analyst noted that, in the Caribbean, “political independence has made economic problems the basis of political power” (Segal 1968, 46). Concerns over rapid population growth, rising unemployment, and the need for larger markets prompted the thirteenth annual Congress of the Commonwealth Chambers of Industry and Commerce of the Caribbean, a body representing industrialists (p.164) throughout the Caribbean, to pass a resolution calling for a Caribbean-wide free trade area: “The delegation emphasized the risk of economic and political instability resulting from increasing population and unemployment” (Segal 1968, 59).

IOs could assist the Caribbean states in coordinating policies, pooling resources, and creating markets (Byron 1994, 3). These newly democratic regimes perceived the region’s primary existing IO, the OAS, as ill suited to offer the assistance most desired by the Caribbean states. By and large, the OAS functioned as a military alliance with little focus on the economic issues and policy coordination goals of primary concern to these small island nations. The OAS was still largely viewed as a US-constructed instrument geared toward addressing regional instabilities that might undermine Cold War allies, not toward the economic issues of vital concern to the new democracies such as Barbados. Indeed, the OAS did not acquire its democracy assistance role until the early 1990s. Regional expert Wolf Grabendorff describes well the regional disillusionment with the OAS: “From its very foundation, the OAS has found itself in the dilemma of desiring to unite two opposite objectives. On the one hand, from the Latin American point of view, the OAS is, above all, a cooperation instrument for promoting economic development in the continent. On the other hand, for the United States this entity was actually critical to consolidate the political stability of the Region, and thus ensuring its own hegemonic position” (quote translated by Segovia 2013, 99).

So while Barbados gained entry to the OAS in 1967, it continued to focus largely on Caribbean institutions. This is illustrated in table 7.1, which lists Barbados’s IO memberships in the initial years following democratization. Even before independence, Barbados and the Caribbean islands attempted institutionalized cooperation via the Federation of the West Indies. Established in 1958, largely at the behest of the British government, the federation’s goal was to eventually create a fully independent state out of the British Caribbean colonies. While that organization collapsed in 1962, two largely technical organizations immediately followed: the Regional Shipping Services (created to manage the operation of the two ships donated in 1962 by the government of Canada) and the Caribbean Meteorological Service (formed in 1963) (Tsikata, Moreira, and Hamilton 2009, 30).

In July of 1965, Errol Barrow, leader of the Democratic Labour Party and premier of Barbados (and, following independence, the country’s first prime minister), invited Forbes Burnham, prime minister of Guyana (p.165) (which was still known as British Guiana), to Barbados to discuss creating a free trade area between the two countries (Ramphal 2009, 2). At the time, Frederick Goddard, a member of the House of Assembly from the Barbados National Party, clearly articulated the value of integrating the Caribbean economies: “In our case we have only 240,000 consumers in Barbados but in the Eastern Caribbean we can boast of 600,000. We need the larger market.”5 Barrow’s invitation was of immense interest to Burnham because, as he later stated in a 1967 speech, “either we weld ourselves into a regional grouping serving primarily Caribbean needs, or lacking a common positive policy, have our various territories and nations drawn hither and thither into, and by, other large groupings where the peculiar problems of the Caribbean are lost. … Either we integrate or we perish, unwept, unhonored” (quoted in Payne 1980, 75. Emphasis in original). The two leaders, along with Antigua’s chief minister V. C. Bird, signed the trilateral Agreement of Dickenson Bay on December 15, 1965, founding the Caribbean Free Trade Association.6 The move toward greater economic integration in Europe apparently offered some inspiration, as the text of the treaty was, in the words of one economist from Guyana, “literally a transcription of the [1960] European Free Trade Association Treaty.”7 While CARIFTA was founded in 1965, the three parties, recognizing the advantages of creating a larger trading bloc, agreed to wait for other countries to join the IO. Hence, they postponed having the treaty come into force until 1968. The delay proved fruitful, as CARIFTA came into force with eleven members (Antigua, Barbados, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Dominica, Grenada, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Jamaica, and Montserrat).

It is no surprise that Barrow proposed CARIFTA in 1965. The 1966 general elections would determine which party led Barbados into independence, and the democratic leader had to offer tangible benefits to the critical planter-merchant lobby. Given that group’s eagerness for market expansion, their desires likely played a key role in driving Barrow to propose CARIFTA (Dawson 2011, 172). Analyzing the archival record, one regional expert remarked that “[Barrow] had pursued a policy of accommodating those powerful interests within the island’s incipient mixed economy. … Therefore, [Barbados’s] decision, early in 1965, to join in a free trade area with British Guiana and Antigua-Barbuda was hardly surprising. … Barbados’ entry into the free trade area showed that the Barbados Labour Party government and the planter-merchant lobby did share some common ground” (Cox-Alomar 2004, 676). This echoed a (p.166) comment made by an observer in 1968: “The tight-knit Barbados business and industrial community is interested in broader markets but concerned over competition from industries in Trinidad and Jamaica. Hence its preference for phased free trade. Barrow is on record as being opposed to any government direction of the location of industry and in favor of the widest possible free trade grouping” (Segal 1968, 70).

CARIFTA offered some direct gains from liberalized trade, especially for Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, and Jamaica, which were wealthier than the other Caribbean states (Hope 1974; Axline 1978).8 According to Atkinson (1982, 508), “Basically, CARIFTA allowed free trade of goods within the region, as well as regional cooperation in other matters. It was an attempt to overcome the problem of the smallness of the individual units, and to build a market based on the 4.5 million people in the region.” With respect to industry support for regional economic integration, the Incorporated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of the Commonwealth Caribbean, a group of local industrialists and businesspeople throughout the Caribbean region, supported CARIFTA (Segal 1968, 13).

The primary benefit of CARIFTA, however, was as a stepping-stone. Simmonds (1974, 457) writes how “it was inevitable that the movement toward more functional co-operation and progressive economic integration in the Caribbean should have found the structure of CARIFTA … unable to provide more than an initial impetus toward long-term mechanisms.” Unlike BALTBAT for the Baltic States, CARIFTA was not a stepping-stone to a lucrative existing IO but to the creation of other IOs that enabled the Caribbean states to gain much-needed economic support from the established democracies. These IOs were the Caribbean Development Bank (in 1969) and, in particular, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM, in 1973).

With respect to CARICOM, as early as 1969, the Barbados Manufacturers Association, representing the light manufacturing industry in Barbados, called for protection from third-country imports via an external tariff (Axline 1978, 963). This led Barbados to be an early advocate for a common external tariff among the Caribbean states, but agreement to create CARICOM was not reached until October 1972.9 While a common external tariff was important, perhaps just as important was CARICOM’s ability to create a common trade policy by providing a venue for policy coordination.10 As one scholar writes, “CARICOM, grouping both independent and nonindependent Caribbean states, was in part intended to provide the independent countries with greater diplomatic weight” (p.167) (Lewis 1993, 104). Indeed, a primary benefit of CARIFTA itself, as envisioned by Barrow and Burnham, was to eventually enhance the bargaining position of the Caribbean nations vis-à-vis non-Caribbean states by actualizing Caribbean economic integration (Will 1989, 321). As Segal (1968, 46) writes, “There is a growing sense of the added strength from negotiating externally as a single unit, one of the spillover effects of regional integration elsewhere.” This enabled the Caribbean states to act as a single bloc during negotiations with European states over trade cooperation and concessions.11 These talks resulted in the 1975 Georgetown Agreement (establishing the African, Caribbean, and Pacific Group of States) and the 1975 Lomé Convention (during which the European states agreed to grant the ACP countries preferential access to the European market) (Grant 2003, 4).12 The Lomé negotiations are especially notable, as the policy coordination fostered through CARICOM enabled the Caribbean countries to take the lead in formulating and presenting the ACP position (Byron 1994, 7; Gruhn 1976, 254). Indeed, to emphasize their position as a single bloc, the CARICOM nations asked that their individual country names be removed at conferences (though they do appear on the final treaty) (Gruhn 1976, 252).13

The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) is a good example of how established democracies worked through these new IOs to assist the new democracies. Writing in 1970, K. R. Simmonds observed that the CDB was considered an “essential complement” to CARIFTA and might “come to provide the cement which will hold CARIFTA together” (Simmonds 1970, 392). The CDB was originally proposed by the United Nations Development Programme and the 1966 Tripartite Survey sponsored by the United States, Britain, and Canada (Abbott 1969, 9).14 Britain and Canada were signatories of the Charter and Final Act of the CDB, and the United States pledged financial support. A primary purpose of the CDB was to provide “soft” loans to support new industries and communications projects intended to eventually position the Caribbean states to gain from the main CARIFTA provisions regarding open trade (Simmonds 1970, 392).15 The Charter and Final Act setting up the bank were signed at a conference held in Kingston, Jamaica, on October 18, 1969, by eighteen member governments, including Canada, the United Kingdom, and other non-CARIFTA signatories (who committed $50 million in capital).

Hence, this case is a good illustration of our claim that supporting the new IOs of democratizing states gives established democracies an inexpensive way of offering assistance. As one observer of Caribbean independence and (p.168) regional integration in the 1960s writes, “The external powers’ principal interest is to increase the political and economic viability of the Commonwealth Caribbean at minimum cost to themselves. This makes support for regional integration infinitely more attractive than admitting more West Indian migrants or paying higher prices for West Indian sugar” (Segal 1968, 66).

Uruguay and Mercosur

Uruguay is a classic case of democracy emerging from military rule. Uruguay, like many of its South American neighbors, was under military rule during the 1970s and into the early 1980s. Under military rule since 1973, Uruguay fully democratized when elections were held in November of 1984, and civilian rule was restored in early 1985. For comparison, Peru democratized in 1980, Argentina in 1983, Brazil in 1985, Chile in 1989, and Paraguay in 1992.16

The situation paving the way for elections and the end of military rule was the deteriorating condition of the Uruguayan economy (Haggard and Kaufman 1997, 270). During the 1970s, an overvalued peso enabled banks to borrow from abroad. When the peso collapsed in value in 1982, however, this drove up the value of the dollar-denominated debts. Since most of the banks in Uruguay had to borrow in dollars, this rendered them unable to repay (Gillespie 1991, 106). The result was widespread bank failure. As Gillespie (1991, 104, 107) writes, “The performance of the authoritarian regime in terms of the economy was becoming a serious concern for both the military and the business elite. … Until 1980, the regime could derive a surrogate for legitimacy from the revival of economic growth for the first time in two decades. Thereafter, they lost even that.” Remmer (1990, 329) observes, “In Uruguay the military response to the crisis of 1982 was ineffective and vacilitating.” Inability to effectively respond to the crisis pushed the military leadership to begin negotiations with the civilian leadership of several political parties (some of whom had been in exile) over terms for a transition to democracy (Gillespie 1991, 108).

Given that an economic crisis brought down the military regime and that a primary contributor to the failure of Uruguayan democracy in the early 1970s had been the delegitimization of the regime in the eyes of business and labor, the new democratic leaders required the trust of business interests (Gillespie 1991, 39; Kaltenthaler and Mora 2002, 73). Writing about the political climate of the late 1980s, Gardini (2010, 78–79) observes, (p.169) “Inability to tackle economic and social problems debilitated the presidents and their parties, and disagreements emerged within the ruling coalitions too. Destabilizing maneuvers against the democratic governments, including possible coups, were not just a remote risk.” From the vantage point of the political leadership throughout South America, and Uruguay was no exception, this made it necessary to reduce debt while ensuring stable economic growth.

From the perspective of Uruguay and the other newly democratic regimes in the region, the region’s primary existing IO, the OAS, was inadequate for their needs of achieving economic stabilization. Therefore, Uruguay, along with the other newly democratized states of South America, turned to creating IOs. The IO memberships acquired by Uruguay shortly after democratizing are listed in table 7.1. Of Uruguay’s memberships in newly formed IOs, the most notable is Mercosur, formed in 1991 by Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, and Paraguay. Scholars agree that Mercosur was largely a “top-down” initiative, meaning it came about from the efforts of the political leadership to enact policies that might appeal to business, rather than because of pressure from business (Kaltenthaler and Mora 2002, 81, 87; Cason 2011, 53; Gardini 2010, 149). Critical to gaining business support was expanding access to foreign markets within and outside the region. From the perspective of the Uruguayan leadership, institutionalized economic integration with Argentina and Brazil was vital to ensuring that Uruguay’s nascent democratic regime retained the support of the business elites while pursuing painful domestic economic reforms, such as cutting government spending and reducing the growth of government debt (Remmer 1990, 328). Improved access to the large Brazilian and Argentine markets would “compensate” these interests for any losses associated with the reforms (Kaltenthaler and Mora 2002, 88). As the Uruguayan foreign minister at that time, Héctor Gros Espiell, explained, “Uruguay needed an open economic policy compatible with integration. Readjustment in the structure of the economy was difficult but necessary. Economic integration facilitated and reduced the economic and political costs of much-needed changes in economic production. In some ways, integration helped to modify opposition to economic reform from some powerful societal groups, allowing for the regime to overcome any stress on the democratic regime.”17

Toward this end, Gros Espiell and the Uruguayan president, Luis Alberto Lacalle, proposed creating a common market between the four nations of Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay. Lacalle and Gros (p.170) Espiell, immediately upon coming to office in 1990, voiced a desire to join and extend two treaties that Brazil and Argentina had signed after they democratized: the Argentina-Brazil Integration and Economics Cooperation Program (PICE after its Portuguese name) and the 1988 Treaty of Integration, Cooperation, and Development. The latter treaty called for the creation of a free trade area between the two nations within ten years (with the potential of expanding to more countries after 1993). Uruguay was already formally associated with some of the PICE protocols (since 1988) but had not acceded to the Treaty of Integration, Cooperation, and Development (Gardini 2010, 93). By June 1990, Espiell was engaged in working meetings with Argentina’s foreign minister Domingo Cavallo and Brazil’s foreign minister José Francisco Rezek with the goal of Uruguay taking part in a common market (Gardini 2010, 94). Critical to Uruguay’s accession was revising Article 10 of the 1988 treaty, as it placed a five-year moratorium on accession of new members.18 Based on an interview with Gros Espiell, Kaltenthaler and Mora (2002, 87) write, “Attempting to avoid the potential economic costs of marginalization from Argentine-Brazilian integration, Montevideo initiated and helped promote the idea of a regional free trade agreement during the July-August meeting in Brasilia. Uruguayan business associations quickly supported the government’s initiative accepting the president’s argument that Uruguay could not afford to be marginalized from any major trade agreement between its two largest trade partners.”

Regardless of who initiated Mercosur’s creation, all members considered tighter economic cooperation as essential to the survival of their fledgling democracies. Indeed, the preamble to the 1986 PICE Treaty explicitly states that Brazil and Argentina were aware of “the importance of this historical moment in the relationship between both nations, engaged in the consolidation of democracy both as a way of living and as a government system” (Brazil-Argentina 1986). The treaty establishing Mercosur, the 1991 Treaty of Asunción, does not explicitly refer to democratic consolidation, but it does state that the four signatories consider “the expansion of their domestic markets, through integration, is a vital prerequisite for accelerating their processes of economic development with social justice” (Mercosur 1991). Moreover, while the Treaty of Asunción makes no explicit mention of democracy, the 1992 Las Lenãs declaration by the presidents of the Mercosur countries asserted that “fully functioning democratic institutions are an indispensable condition for the existence and development of Mercosur” (Genna and Hiroi 2015, 129).19

(p.171) While the creation of Mercosur was initiated and carried out by the Southern Cone states, assistance from established democracies, primarily via the EU, was almost immediate. Indeed, the EU provided inspiration to the Southern Cone states when negotiating Mercosur. When negotiating the Treaty of Asunción, “reference to the EU was constant,” according to Luiz Felipe Lampreia, former Brazilian foreign minister and a participant in the Mercosur negotiations (quoted in Lenz 2012, 161). Once Mercosur formed, assistance from Brussels was almost immediate. The EU and Mercosur established the Training Centre for Regional Integration, which aimed to train diplomats in Mercosur countries in “EU ways of doing things,” in Montevideo, Uruguay, which is also the location of the Mercosur secretariat (Lenz 2012, 162). EU assistance was critical from Mercosur’s founding in 1991 to the signing of the 1994 Protocol of Ouro Preto (called for by Article 18 of the Treaty of Asunción), which established the supranational institutional structures of Mercosur, such as the Council of the Common Market and the Joint Parliamentary Commission (Botto 2009).20 EU financial assistance during this time included twenty-four million euros’ worth of technical cooperation projects, such as 3.95 million euros for the Cooperation and Technical Assistance in Technical Regulation Issues Project in Brazil, 965,000 euros for the Mercosur Customs Harmonization Support Project in Uruguay, and 11.2 million euros for the Technical Assistance on Agricultural Issues Cooperation Project in Paraguay.21 The EU gave an additional twenty-one million euros’ worth of “EU-Mercosur” assistance, including nine hundred thousand euros to support the establishment of the Mercosur Parliament in Uruguay and six million euros for harmonizing food, veterinary, sanitary, and phytosanitary standards.22

Such European technical and material assistance was necessary if the Mercosur states were to achieve the goal of creating a true common market. The reality is that the Mercosur member states had not spent much time discussing the details for achieving this objective prior to signing the Treaty of Asunción. As one Brazilian diplomat admitted years later, “If we go to the documents or to the minutes of the discussions between Brazil and Argentina, nowhere can you find a very detailed study concerning the technicalities of a customs union or a common market. You just have political enthusiasm.”23

Mercosur is now a lucrative regional IO, with other states in the region desiring membership.24 At the end of 2016, five states were associate members (Chile, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru), two were candidate associates (Guyana and Suriname), and one state, Venezuela, gained full (p.172) membership in 2012.25 Mercosur serves as a forum in which the members discuss and coordinate across a host of policy domains, ranging from infrastructure improvements to nuclear proliferation and drug trafficking (Manzetti 1993/94, 110).26 But as originally designed, Mercosur was a means of bringing economic stability, and thereby legitimacy, to the new democratic regimes in Uruguay and its Southern Cone neighbors.

Changing an Existing IO

The above examples illustrate perfectly the formation of new IOs by democratizing states and how these states, through the assistance of established democracies, use the new IOs to assist in democratic consolidation. However, there is another path that can be taken by democratizing states: changing an existing IO. While not strictly the creation of a wholly new IO, this action still captures key elements of our theoretical claim that democratizing states will seek new supranational organizational structures that better serve their specific needs. Hence, it is useful to discuss such actions before concluding our study.

Changing an IO can occur in two ways. First, the states can remodel the existing IO. In this case, the change can be substantial enough that the states effectively create a new IO. This was the case with the shift from the Southern African Development Coordination Conference to the South African Development Community.27 Second, the states can reform an existing IO. In this case, the change does not effectively create a new IO (i.e., the IO does not undergo a name change) but can entail the creation of new subinstitutions that reorient the focus of the IO. While NATO in the 1990s, with the creation of PfP and MAP, exhibited some features of reform, a starker example is the OAS and the creation of the Unit for Democracy Promotion in 1992.

This section will begin by discussing the transition from SADCC to SADC. We will highlight the programs the SADC implemented that helped members, such as Mozambique, move down the path toward democratic consolidation. The SADC also illustrates how IOs are largely powerless to directly prevent authoritarian reversals. The section will then discuss the OAS and how, under Canadian leadership, it reformed to become more active in democracy assistance. As with the SADC, the section will show how the OAS offers direct and tangible assistance for consolidating democratic institutions but can do little to prevent autocratic reversals.

(p.173) Remodeling: From SADCC to SADC

The SADC was formed in 1992, when several of its original members were experiencing democratic transitions. Tanzania was slowly moving toward a limited form of democratic governance, with its first multiparty elections held in 1995. Similarly, Angola’s institutions were becoming more democratic, though it was embroiled in civil war.28 Mozambique, Malawi, and Lesotho were all in the initial stages of democratic transition.29 Zambia was democratizing and Namibia was democratic but newly independent.30 Only Botswana was a stable democracy.

The SADC was formed primarily because the region’s existing IOs did not fit the needs of the region’s democratizing countries (Poast and Urpelainen 2013, 834). Pan-African organizations, such as the Organisation of African Unity, were too thinly institutionalized and generic to solve the region’s socioeconomic problems. Before the SADC, the smaller countries in southern Africa had collaborated under the Southern African Development Coordination Conference. The SADCC was explicitly formed to reduce the dependence of these countries on the apartheid regime of South Africa, which had dominated the regional economy for decades (Anglin 1983). Though South Africa had proposed a regional economic forum as early as 1979, its “efforts inspired the surrounding black ruled states to seek ways and means to counter South Africa’s efforts and its domination of the region” (Ndulo 1999, 8). But given its weight in the region, as long as South Africa remained an unacceptable partner for the other southern African governments, the prospects for regional integration were poor.

Of great significance to the IO, and the area as a whole, was South Africa’s transition from apartheid dictatorship to liberal democracy. Nelson Mandela was elected president of the republic in 1994, but the progress toward liberalization had begun as early as 1989, when Mandela, still imprisoned, initiated negotiations with F. W. de Klerk’s government. South Africa’s democratization gave impetus to replacing the SADCC with the SADC. The SADCC members did not want South Africa’s democratic emergence to overshadow, in the eyes of Western donors, the needs of the other southern African states.31 As remarked in a 1991 SADCC executive secretary report following a visit to donors in Europe and the United States, “In certain quarters, it was suggested that SADCC would be irrelevant after apartheid, and that South Africa, once politically acceptable, would assume the role of regional power to dominate, lead, and give assistance to (p.174) the rest of the region. In the latter connection, there were even suggestions that cooperation partners might then disengage from Southern Africa, in deference to South Africa playing the role of ‘regional donor.’”32 Moreover, the SADCC had underperformed in accomplishing one of its core functions: regional economic integration. As expressed in an August 17, 1992, declaration by the heads of state or government of southern Africa, “[Under the SADCC] progress towards reduction of the region’s economic dependence, and towards economic integration, has been modest. The organisation has, so far, not been able to mobilise to the fullest extent possible, the region’s own resources, for development” (SADC 1992). The existing SADCC members felt that the appropriate response was to convert the SADCC from an institution focused on policy coordination to an IO focused on setting common policies (Tostensen 1993, 155).

Once established, the SADC took on many functions, many of them of direct relevance to the challenges faced by new democracies. With respect to democratization itself, Article 4 of the SADC treaty commits the members to honoring “human rights, democracy, and the rule of law.” More generally, Article 21 of the SADC treaty identifies a host of areas in which the members would seek to cooperate, from food security and infrastructure to natural resource management and internal security (Matlosa 2004, 7). What is more, in 2004, the SADC members adopted the Indicative Strategic Plan for the Organ on Politics, Defense and Security. This framework emphasized a host of functions core to democratic governance: common electoral standards, promotion of democracy and good governance, encouragement of political parties to accept electoral defeats, the establishment of a regional SADC electoral commission and a similar commission for human rights, and the strengthening of judicial systems (Matlosa 2004, 8).

Mozambique’s experience illustrates well how these various projects supported democratizing states on the path toward consolidation, even in difficult circumstances. Between 1977 and 1992, the country was in a civil war between the postindependence Marxist rulers from the Mozambique Liberation Front (FRELIMO) and the Mozambican National Resistance (RENAMO) rebels. While Mozambique was in a desperate economic situation when the war ended in October 1992 with the Rome Peace Accords, the country was already on the path toward democratic development thanks to the November 1990 constitution. In 1994, the country held its first free and fair general elections, and the ruling FRELIMO secured a majority of the votes.

(p.175) Over the next two decades, SADC initiatives provided Mozambique with much-needed economic and infrastructure public goods. With respect to economic public goods, the SADC made important contributions to regional trade integration. In 1995, the SADC began investments for “the improvement of road and railway services into Mozambique, so that the landlocked countries of the region could transport their goods through Mozambican ports instead of South African ones” (Murison 2002, 1276). Investments into regional transportation capacity were complementary with the 1996 SADC Protocol on Trade, which established a legal framework for the removal of both tariffs and nontariff barriers to regional trade (SADC 1996), a process that began in the year 2000. With respect to infrastructure, several notable projects were in the energy sector. For instance, the 1995 SADC memorandum of understanding on the Southern African Power Pool addressed the then-negligible electricity trade between the region’s economies. Because of Mozambique’s access to abundant hydroelectric resources, its electric utilities benefit from the ability to transmit electricity across borders. In 1997, in the context of the Southern African Power Pool, a broken transmission line between Mozambique and South Africa was fixed; in 2000, additional power lines from South Africa to Mozambique for the Mozal aluminum smelter were completed (Niyimbona 2005, 13).

SADC initiatives also fostered Mozambique’s administrative development. Consider the SADC National Committees (Nzewi and Zakwe 2009). Introduced in 2001, these coordinate all SADC activities and ensure coherence of regional and national policy. While the operation of the committees has been fraught with challenges, as one would expect of any effort to coordinate policies in a diverse but relatively poor set of countries, they have become an important element of the Mozambican administrative apparatus: “In Mozambique, SNCs [SADC National Committees] are seen as not only a SADC institution but a part of the Mozambique government planning process” (Nzewi and Zakwe 2009, 22).

Finally, the SADC assisted Mozambique’s democratic governance, notably through election monitoring. Consider Mozambique’s October 2014 general election, when the opposition party RENAMO leveled accusations of electoral fraud against the ruling party. The SADC had monitored the election and published a report arguing that, despite some minor irregularities, “the 2014 Presidential, Legislative and Provincial Assemblies Elections in the Republic were, generally peaceful; transparent; free and fair, and credible” (SEOM 2014). While one should not accept the (p.176) SADC’s evaluation at face value, it is notable that the European Parliament’s observers came to the same conclusion, stating that the elections were “orderly” and confirming FRELIMO’s victory.33 Subsequently, the opposition ended its boycott of the national legislature in February 2015.34

While the experience of Mozambique illustrates how the SADC can assist a state on the path to democratic consolidation, the SADC faces limitations in its ability to stop authoritarian reversals. In an article evaluating the democracy enforcement activities of the SADC, Van der Leuten and Hoffmann (2010) conduct case studies of two threats to democracy in the area, one in Lesotho (in 1998) and the other in Zimbabwe throughout President Robert Mugabe’s rule. They note that while the SADC was able to send troops to Lesotho to prevent a military coup, actual enforcement action required direct intervention by South Africa: “South Africa had a clear geopolitical interest in political stability in Lesotho, a landlocked enclave within its own territory: a military coup and political violence in South Africa’s ‘backyard’ would have damaged the political climate in the region and could have invited other coups” (Van der Leuten and Hoff-mann 2010, 752).

Consider also the experience of Zambia. While Zambia achieved international fame for its surprisingly thorough and rapid democratic reform after successful general elections in 1991,35 by 1996 the country was retrenching toward authoritarian rule, with the incumbent government using its position to prevent the opposition from competing in free and fair elections.36 Both the SADC and the donor community failed to intervene to stop the flawed elections. When the inconsistencies in and problems with Zambia’s political system came to light prior to the 1996 elections, both the SADC and the broader international community expressed their disappointment with the post-1991 retrenchment of democratization. As Baylies and Szeftel (1997, 114) write, “An unsuccessful eleventh hour appeal was made, for instance, by President Mandela of South Africa, in his capacity as chair of SADC, to postpone the election until the deficiencies could be corrected and anomalies removed.” But these efforts failed. The Movement for Multiparty Democracy, which had brought democracy to Zambia in 1991, scored 60 percent of all votes and 131 of the total 150 parliamentary seats (Baylies and Szeftel 1997, 113). President Frederick Chiluba also won a second term with a comfortable margin of victory—an achievement made much easier by a convenient constitutional revision that prevented the previous head of state, Kenneth Kaunda, from running for office on the grounds that he was not born in Zambia.

(p.177) A Human Rights Watch report on the 1996 elections sheds light on the SADC’s inactivity.37 On June 28, 1996, the SADC launched the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security with much fanfare, but Zambia “successfully blocked discussion of the Zambia domestic issue.” While individual SADC members criticized Zambia for violating the practice of free and fair elections, on August 24, 1996, the SADC again failed to discuss the issue at a regional summit. Instead, “President Mandela asked that the matter be discussed privately.” Despite repeated calls by Mandela for Chiluba to allow Kaunda to run for office, the Zambian government went ahead with the elections and won another five years in office.

This episode usefully illuminates the limits of IOs in the face of authoritarian reversals. Even though Zambia did not experience a military coup or widespread violence, the SADC was unable to exert diplomatic influence on a leader bent on enacting an incumbent takeover. This failure occurred despite auspicious timing: South Africa, the region’s political and economic hegemon, was chairing the SADC, and it is difficult to imagine anyone in the region enjoying as much international prestige and influence as President Nelson Mandela did at the time. Indeed, the reason does not appear to have been lack of opposition to the illegitimate elections by SADC members, as several countries in the region did complain about Zambia’s conduct. Instead, the problem was that the SADC lacked teeth. It did not have the capacity to force Zambia to change course. When even the powerful bilateral donors were unable to stop Chiluba, it is difficult to see what the SADC could have done. It is equally difficult to envision South Africa initiating a military conflict because of election irregularities. Consequently, Zambia’s democratic transition stalled for several years.

Reforming: The OAS and the UDP

In the case of the SADC, the states effectively created a new IO. This IO was built on the infrastructure of an existing IO,38 but it was nonetheless new. Democratizing states can also, under rare circumstances, reform an established IO to make it more squarely focused on democracy assistance. This requires the IO’s members, which are likely to be established democracies, to take a viable operating IO—rather than an effectively defunct IO, as in the case of remodeling—and reorient its mission to serve the needs of the democratizing states. While our theory does not speak directly to this mechanism, it usefully shows the variety of ways that (p.178) established democracies can work through IOs to assist democratizing states.

One example of reforming an IO is the OAS. This case is special, as it was largely due to an established democracy, Canada, becoming a new member of this old IO and then reforming it from the inside. But given the prominence of the OAS in discussions of the IO-democratization nexus, it is an example worth exploring.

By the early 1990s, the OAS finally realized that it needed to be more active in helping new democracies. This was largely because Canada—an established democracy—became a member in June 1990. Canada had not participated in the negotiations to create the Rio Pact in 1947 or the OAS Charter in 1948. Canada did not seek membership in this IO, as reflected in remarks by Canadian prime minister Louis St. Laurent in February 1949: “At the present time we consider it much more urgent to bring about this North Atlantic Union [i.e., NATO] than to extend one that might be regarded as exclusive for the Western Hemisphere. … It was not likely, under present circumstances, that the Government would wish to join the O.A.S. outright.”39 This would essentially remain the Canadian position until the late 1980s.

In October 1989, a marked change in Canadian policy was expressed by Canadian prime minister Brian Mulroney: “Interdependence is making us all partners in each other’s burdens, participants in each other’s prosperity, and architects in each other’s dreams. Democracy, debts, sustainable development, drugs—these issues are the agendas of all the governments of this region. The Organization of American States is the only regional organization that can bring all the governments of the hemisphere together to deal with them. … Canada is encouraged by the efforts made to revitalize and restructure the OAS. And we are prepared to contribute to that process, in whatever useful way we can.”40

The economic crises afflicting the region and the attempts to establish new democracies (see the above discussion regarding Mercosur), coupled with the decline in tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union (and the consequent reduction in the possibility of the OAS drawing Canada into an anti-Marxist conflict), created an opening for the Canadian government to enter and reform the OAS.41 Canada took that opportunity.

One of the first actions by Canada within the OAS was to propose the Unit for Democracy Promotion (UDP) (Major 2007, 92).42 Established in 1992, UDP marked a decisive post-Cold War turn of the OAS from regional (p.179) security to democracy promotion and good governance.43 As Herz (2011, 28) writes, “Since the 1990s, the organization has been going through a significant transformation, incorporating new functions in line with a broader hemispheric agenda, but remaining a social place where the defense of state sovereignty and non-intervention in particular is enacted. The earlier experience of multilateral interaction marked by Latin American concern over interference by outside great powers is still influential. At the same time, new functions in the sphere of security and support for democratic regimes have been incorporated as the organization adapts to new patterns of global governance.”

Studying the UDP’s annual reports offers useful insights into exactly how the OAS went about assisting democratization in Latin America. To this end, we qualitatively coded the democracy promotion activities reported in the Annual Reports of the Secretary General of the Organization of American States for each year from 1992 to 2010.44 Specifically, democracy promotion activities were reported in the Unit for the Promotion of Democracy section of the reports (from 1992 through 2003), the Department of Democratic and Political Affairs section (in 2004), and the Secretariat for Political Affairs section (from 2005 through 2010). Each paragraph of these sections describes an activity engaged in by the OAS in a particular country or set of countries during that year. Consider two examples from the 2006 annual report (OAS 2006). In Colombia, the OAS provided technical assistance and monitoring of election procedures: “The program of Technical Assistance to the National Registry of Vital Statistics of Colombia, in cooperation with Colombia’s National Data Processing Management Office … did follow-up and monitoring work that equipped the National Registry with a tool for constant evaluation of procedures, installed infrastructure and other important processes employed during the practice exercises and the elections in 2006.” In Haiti, the OAS provided electoral support: “The OAS Electoral Technical Assistance Program in Haiti (ETAPH) continued to provide assistance to electoral authorities and helped mount the presidential, legislative, municipal, and local elections held at various times during the year, mainly by assisting the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) with data processing and by helping with the tabulation, transmission, and announcement of the election results.”

We placed the various activities in each country into one of five categories: workshops, democracy promotion, governance promotion, international peace building, and crisis prevention. We provide a description (p.180)

Table 7.2 Categories of OAS democracy assistance activities

Activity Category

Activity Description

Number of Activities from 1992 to 2010

Governance promotion

Technical assistance or training for elections, operating government institutions (such as training of justices or education in parliamentary procedures), and development of capacities to distribute and record information (e.g., civil record keeping)


Democracy promotion

Election monitoring and inspecting political and judicial institutions



Hosting a regional conference/symposium/seminar


International peace building

Mediation and disarmament inspections in interstate disputes


Crisis prevention

Mediation of civil wars or oversight of rebel group disarmament


of each project type in table 7.2, along with the number of each type of activity implemented between 1992 and 2010. The coding of these projects sheds light on the OAS. From 1992 to 2010, the OAS implemented 654 activities: 101 workshops, 142 democracy promotion activities, 323 governance promotion activities, 57 international peace-building activities, and 31 crisis prevention activities. The vast majority of the OAS’s activities (governance promotion and democracy promotion) are oriented toward promoting democratic consolidation. This suggests that high-profile anecdotal cases, such as responding to the Fujimori autogolpe in Peru or Haiti’s several authoritarian reversals, are not representative of the OAS’s role in democratic assistance. Focusing on particular crises prevents scholars from investigating the more mundane and routine (and common) operations of the OAS in assisting new democracies.

Of course, though the activities oriented toward crisis prevention are small in number, it might be the case that these activities play a vital role in preventing, for example, coup attempts in high-risk countries. In other words, small in number need not connote small in importance. Therefore, consider table 7.3. It reports each of the thirty-one crisis prevention activities of the OAS, the country in which the activity took place, and a (p.181)

Table 7.3 OAS crisis preventive missions, 1992–2010



Program description



Database of former armed irregulars



Demobilization of former combatants



Reassimilation of former combatants



Reassimilation of former combatants



Reassimilation of former combatants



Reassimilation of former combatants



Reassimilation of former combatants



Reassimilation of former combatants



Demobilization of former combatants



Technical support for the peace process



Technical support for peace and reassimilation



Technical support in political negotiation and mediation



Technical support in political negotiation and mediation



Technical support of the peace process and political dialogue in response to a crisis



Technical support of dialogue and consensus building in response to a crisis



Technical support to government in design and implementation of a program to settle conflicts



Continue technical support of the peace process and political dialogue



Verification of the ceasefire and cessation of hostilities, demobilization, disarmament



Facilitate dialogue between government and society in a political crisis



Continued verification of the ceasefire and cessation of hostilities, demobilization, and disarmament



Continued verification of the ceasefire and cessation of hostilities, demobilization, and disarmament



Continued verification of the ceasefire and cessation of hostilities, demobilization, and disarmament



Technical assistance into investigations of political killings



Continue verification of the ceasefire and cessation of hostilities, demobilization, disarmament



Helped ease tensions between government and opposition on various issues



Supported president after assassination of Rodrigo Rosenberg



Supported the dialogue between the government and opposition in response to a political crisis



Continued verification of the ceasefire and cessation of hostilities, demobilization, and disarmament



Technical assistance with creation of Citizen Participation and Societal Oversight Council



Technical assistance with creation of Truth and Reconciliation Commission



Assistance in restitution of property to persons affected by illegal paramilitary groups

(p.182) description of the activity. All nine of the missions during the 1990s involved assisting countries in assimilating former combatants. From 2001 to 2005, seven of the eleven missions provided technical support and two supported voluntary mediation. All of these were in response to crises. Only two missions, both in Colombia, conducted meaningful crisis prevention by actually disarming rebels. Similarly, from 2006 to 2010, two of the eleven missions provided technical support, while three supported voluntary mediation. Again, these were in response to crises. Six of the missions, all in Colombia, again entailed disarming rebels.45

To further illustrate the limits of the OAS in preventing autocratic reversals, consider its behavior in individual crises, such as the three major crises of the early 1990s: Haiti (1991), Peru (1992), and Guatemala (1993).46 In Haiti, the army launched a coup against the democratically elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Aristide fled the country and was replaced by a junta led by General Raoul Cédras (Shaw 2004, 161). Although the OAS imposed an embargo on Haiti, the coup ended only in 1994 when the United Nations Security Council authorized a naval blockade. Finally, in September 1994, Cédras capitulated and Aristide was restored to power (Shaw 2004, 161–62). This would seem to support the power of OAS sanctions, until one notes the imminent arrival of twenty thousand US troops acting under UN authority (Shaw 2004, 161–62). Hence, it was only the threat of military action by the United States, as authorized by the Security Council, that ousted the junta.47 The role of the OAS was limited to earlier, failed efforts to reverse the coup through trade sanctions.

In Peru, the OAS did little to stop President Alberto Fujimori’s autogolpe of April 5, 1992. As Cooper and Legler (2006, 50) note, the self-coup was “hugely popular among the wider population, the military, and the business class.” Although the OAS and the United States condemned Fujimori and imposed sanctions on Peru, these produced, at best, mixed results. On the one hand, the authoritarian government agreed to restore democratic rule. On the other hand, according to Cooper and Legler (2006, 50), “from start to finish Fujimori’s forces controlled the entire process of rewriting the constitution and restoring Congress.” Hence, even if we generously give the OAS some credit for Peru, it certainly did not stop the authoritarian reversal. There is also good reason to contest the role of the OAS in the Peruvian crisis. According to the case study by Cooper and Legler (2006, 54), Fujimori’s domestic popularity insulated his government against international condemnation. Instead, Fujimori’s (p.183) willingness to soften his authoritarian rule had more to do with the country’s dependence on external assistance, namely the threat by the United States, Japan, and European states to remove that assistance (Cooper and Legler 2006, 54).

Perhaps the most interesting case is Guatemala. Pevehouse (2005) previously argued that this case exemplified the ability of the OAS to stop authoritarian reversals. Upon closer inspection, however, it turns out that the role of the OAS was limited and the context highly favorable to successful democratic consolidation. The crisis began on May 25, 1993, when Guatemalan president Jorge Serrano Elías suspended the constitution, dissolved Congress, and dismissed the courts (Villagrán de León 1993, 117). However, the coup was reversed in less than two weeks. This was largely because “the groups and institutions that make up Guatemalan civil society began to mobilize, disjointedly at first, but more and more efficiently as time went on” (Villagrán de León 1993, 117). In the Guatemalan case, it was, therefore, clear that President Jorge Serrano Elías made an error in his political calculations. Given the response of domestic civil society, the autogolpe attempt made no strategic sense. The OAS secretary general, João Baena Soares, visited the country and met with key representatives from various sectors of society, such as the business community, to explain how failure to reverse the coup would result in severe international repercussions (Villagrán de León 1993, 122). Subsequently, the United States suspended aid to Guatemala. So while the OAS served as a transmitter of information, it was the combination of conducive domestic conditions (strong domestic opposition to the coup) and external pressure by an established democracy (the United States) that undermined the coup.

To summarize, following its 1992 reforms, the OAS has mostly conducted activities that promote the consolidation of democratic institutions rather than activities that stop active autocratic reversals. This is consistent with our theoretical claims regarding the influence of IO membership on new democracies. It is also unsurprising, since OAS participation is contingent on government request. Taking steps to prevent a coup requires the government to relinquish sovereignty to the OAS and requires the OAS to have enforcement and punishment mechanisms, such as the blue-helmeted troops of UN missions, that can be applied to “threatening” groups. While this is not to say that the OAS’s crisis management functions are without value, they do not preempt or stop authoritarian reversals.

(p.184) Concluding Thoughts

Regional and national case studies in the Americas and sub-Saharan Africa demonstrate the wider applicability of our theory. The cases of Barbados and Uruguay show how new democracies in the Caribbean and South America, with the assistance of established democracies, formed regional organizations to realize gains from cooperation. Hence, the direct link between democratization and the forming of new IOs is not limited to the experiences of postcommunist Eastern European countries. We then examined the generalizability of our theory by considering how states can create “new” IOs without necessarily “forming” a wholly new organization. Democratizing states in sub-Saharan Africa “remodeled” the ineffectual SADCC into the SADC, an organization whose mission was better tailored to the needs of these states following the emergence of a democratic South Africa. In the Americas, the presence of democratizing states induced an established democracy, Canada, to take the lead in “reforming” the OAS to support democratic consolidation through public good provision and assistance in a large number of country-specific projects.

Our evidence also shows that membership in a larger organization need not always be the purpose of creating a new IO. While the story of BALTBAT, and postcommunist Europe more generally, is one of steppingstones, the democratizing states of the Caribbean and South America created IOs to fill specific gaps. Later, Canada took the lead in reforming the OAS to better serve the needs of democratizing states. In sub-Saharan Africa, the SADC revived the then-defunct SADCC to fill a vacuum created by Cold War geopolitics and South Africa’s international isolation. Each case, therefore, both supports our overall interpretation of the IO-democratization nexus and adds important nuance to our account.


(1.) Gerring and Cojocaru (2016) refer to cases of this nature as “shadow cases.”

(2.) Unfortunately, there are no Polity IV scores for Barbados or several other small Caribbean nations, because they have populations of less than five hundred (p.214) thousand. But Barbados is coded as a democracy according to the Boix, Rosato, and Miller data.

(3.) Indeed, a number of other former British colonies began as democracies, only to slip below the threshold for democracy at some point following independence. Using the Polity IV variable, these include Fiji, Grenada, Nigeria, Myanmar, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, and Sudan.

(4.) The planter-merchant occupations comprised over 50 percent of the labor force in Barbados throughout the period of internal autonomy (1961–1965) and immediately after independence (1966–1970). Occupations in this group are “farmers and fishermen,” “production and process workers,” and “service (textile) workers.” See Lane (1979, 43).

(6.) Antigua would not gain full British independence until 1981.

(7.) Quoted in Brewster (1971, 285). This statement is a bit of an exaggeration. The two texts have marked similarities, but they are not identical.

(8.) However, the available evidence strongly suggests that the increase in Barbadian living standards throughout the 1960s and early 1970s was primarily due to a surge of tourism coming from outside the CARIFTA countries (largely the United States) (Will 1981, 143).

(9.) A key issue was creating a mechanism to compensate the less-developed members of CARIFTA, as the more-developed members—Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, and Jamaica—stood to gain more from a common external tariff (see Axline 1978, 965–66).

(10.) Agreement on a common approach to negotiations with the European Economic Community was ratified at the seventh Heads of Government Conference in 1972.

(11.) A close relationship with the European Economic Community (EEC) was a focus of the CARIFTA from its creation. In 1970, a delegation from the CARIFTA Council of Ministers held preliminary talks with EEC representatives in Brussels. The delegation met with the EEC representatives acting under Article 32(2) of the CARIFTA Agreement. This provision states, “The Council may pursuant to any decision thereof in that behalf seek to procure the creation of an association consisting of Member Territories and any other Territory, union of Territories, or international organization, and embodying such reciprocal rights and obligations, common actions and special procedures as may be appropriate.”

(12.) The Lomé agreement (February 1975) was reached before the Georgetown agreement (June 1975).

(13.) Percival James Patterson, the Jamaican minister for industry, commerce, and tourism, served as the spokesperson for the Caribbean group.

(14.) See also Segal (1968, 66).

(15.) The CDB was launched with $50 million in capital, largely provided by Canada and Britain.

(p.215) (16.) Democratization dates are based on the 21-point Polity IV score for each country reaching or exceeding 6.

(18.) Article 10 of the treaty states, “The association request of the State-Member of the Latin-American Integration Association (ALADI) to this Treaty or to a specific Agreement arising thereof, shall be examined by two State-Parties after five years of this Treaty enforcement or of the specific Agreement to which the State-Member of ALADI requests its association” (Brazil-Argentina 1988).

(19.) In 1998, the Mercosur countries, along with Bolivia and Chile, signed the Ushuaia Protocol on Democratic Commitment, whose Article 5 allows members of regional agreements, acting by consensus, to suspend a member for experiencing a “breakdown of democracy” (Vidigal 2013, 337).

(20.) Article 18 of the Treaty of Asunción reads: “Prior to the establishment of the common market on December 31, 1994, the States Parties shall convene a special meeting to determine the final institutional structure of the administrative organs of the common market, as well as the specific powers of each organ and its decision-making procedures.” English text of the 1991 Treaty of Asunción is available via the Foreign Trade Information System of the OAS, http://www.sice.oas.org/trade/mrcsr/treatyasun_e.asp, accessed November 20, 2016. The 1994 protocol is available via Mercosur, http://www.mercosur.int/innovaportal/file/721/1/cmc_1994_protocolo_ouro_preto_es.pdf, accessed November 20, 2016.

(21.) List of projects found in table 1 of the annexes in Batto (2009).

(22.) Again, complete list of projects found in the appendix to Batto (2009).

(23.) Quoted in Lenz (2012, 162).

(24.) As noted in table 2.1, today Mercosur could be classified as a lucrative IO due to it having member states that can be credibly labeled as established democracies.

(25.) “The Expansion of Mercosur,” Economist, August 3, 2012, http://www.economist.com/blogs/americasview/2012/08/expansion-mercosur, accessed April 28, 2015.

(26.) With respect to nuclear proliferation, see the July 1999 “Political Declaration of MERCOSUR, Bolivia, and Chile as a Zone of Peace,” US Department of State, Diplomacy in Action, Hemispheric Security Documents Archive, http://www.state.gov/p/wha/rls/70988.htm, accessed November 20, 2016.

(27.) In the COW IGO codebook, the SADCC and SADC are coded as separate IOs. The SADCC is COW IGO code #4251, while the SADC is COW IGO code #4250.

(28.) Angola’s 21-point Polity score rose from –7 in 1990 to –3 in 1991 to 0 in 1992, but then it began to decline again starting in 1993.

(29.) The 21-point Polity scores of these three states were gradually rising: from –7 in 1990 to –6 in 1992 to 5 in 1994 for Mozambique; from –9 in 1990 to –8 in 1993 to 6 in 1994 in Malawi; and from –7 in 1990 to 8 in 1993 in Lesotho.

(p.216) (30.) Namibia gained independence from South Africa in 1990, while Zambia’s 21-point Polity IV score had increased from –9 in 1990 to 6 in 1991.

(31.) Söderbaum (2004, 95) identifies the Nordic countries as being particularly strong supporters of the SADCC, largely “due to the fact that [SADCC] was seen as an important partner in the larger anti-apartheid struggle.”

(32.) SADCC 1991 report, quoted in Palloti (2004, 515).

(33.) “MEP Praises ‘Orderly Elections’ in Mozambique,” The Parliament, November 17, 2014, https://www.theparliamentmagazine.eu/articles/news/mep-praises-orderly-elections-mozambique, accessed May 3, 2015.

(34.) “Mozambique’s Opposition Ends Boycott of Parliament after Talks,” Bloom-berg, February 7, 2015, http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-02-07/mozambican-president-opposition-leader-meet-amid-vote-protest, accessed May 3, 2015.

(35.) The united opposition won 125 of the 150 parliamentary seats, turning Zambia into one of the first democracies in mainland Africa (Nasong’o 2007, 92). Between 1990 and 1991, the country’s Polity IV score increased from –9 to 6.

(36.) Specifically, the incumbent president, Frederick Chiluba, won due to an opposition boycott of the election over his unwillingness to allow a constitutional review process to constrain the government’s power. As a result of this issue, the country’s Polity IV score decreased from 6 to 1.

(37.) All information in this paragraph comes from HRW (1996).

(38.) Indeed, the physical headquarters of SADC remained in Gaborone, Botswana, the location of the SADCC.

(39.) Quoted in McKenna (1995, 75). These remarks were made at a press conference in Washington, DC, during the negotiations to complete the North Atlantic Treaty. A primary reason for Canadian reluctance to join was that it viewed the OAS as an instrument of US Cold War policy that could mire Canada in military conflicts throughout Latin America (Rochlin 1994, 190).

(40.) Quoted in Stevenson (2000, 156–57). More directly, these come from the notes for the address by Prime Minister Mulroney (October 27, 1989).

(41.) It should be noted that Canada joined the OAS without signing the Rio Pact mutual defense treaty. This was not unprecedented at the time. As of 1990, members of the OAS who were not also signatories of the Rio Pact were those states that had gained independence following the original founding of the OAS (Barbados, Jamaica, Grenada, Suriname, Dominica, Saint Lucia, Antigua and Barbuda, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, the Bahamas, and Saint Kitts and Nevis). Indeed, only Trinidad and Tobago, which gained independence in 1962, became both an OAS member (in 1967) and a signatory of the Rio Pact (also in 1967).

(42.) The official decision to create the UDP was executive order of the secretary general #90–3, passed on October 15, 1990.

(43.) The OAS regional security focus is embodied in the 1948 Rio Pact (formally the “Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance”).

(p.217) (44.) The 2001–2010 reports are available through the OAS website, http://www.oas.org, accessed March 25, 2012. The 1992 through 2000 reports we acquired directly from the OAS by request. We thank Rene Gutierrez at the Columbus Memorial Library of the Organization of American States for assistance in acquiring the reports.

(45.) Our findings are consistent with McCoy (2012), who provides a list of all explicit threats to democracy and the OAS response to those threats. The 118 threats to democracy from 1990 to 2011 were concentrated in only thirteen countries. Six countries—Haiti, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Bolivia, and Ecuador—had the bulk of the problems. Also the responses of the OAS were rarely aggressive. Military action was only threatened or used in nine cases, of which six concerned Haiti. In other words, Haiti was the target of two-thirds of OAS military activities. Sanctions were applied in twenty-two cases, but eight of these episodes were against Haiti concurrently with military force. In all other cases, the OAS response was limited to diplomatic or proactive measures, such as good offices and mediation.

(46.) Donno (2013, 133) offers the case of the Dominican Republic in 1994. Donno’s findings are similar to ours, in that the effectiveness of OAS shaming for democratic retrenchment was substantially bolstered by condemnations from the United States (which was actually quicker than the OAS to condemn the antidemocratic events in the Dominican Republic). Less relevant for this chapter is her second case, Serbia in the 1990s and 2000s. Rather than demonstrating the advantages of IO membership, it is more usefully seen as a case of how influence by the United States and major European powers (not to mention the NATO military operation against the county in 1999) can push a country along the path of democratization.

(47.) This is consistent with sanctions in general: instances and their seeming effectiveness are often conflated with military intervention (Pape 1997).