Coups d’état continue to present one of the most extreme risks to democracy and stable governance worldwide. This book examines the unique role played by regional organisations (ROs) following the occurrence of a coup d’état.
The book analyses which factors influence the strength of reactions demonstrated by ROs and explores which different post-coup solutions ROs pursue. It argues that, when confronted with a coup, ROs take both basic democratic standards and regional stability into account before forming their responses.
Using a mixed methods approach, the book concludes that ROs respond more decisively to a coup based on how detrimental it will be for the state of democracy in a country, and the higher its risk of destabilizing the region.
The first chapter introduces the issue of coups and RO responses to them. The study builds upon the observation that ROs have started to frequently address coups since the 1990s. Yet the reactions and strategies shown by ROs are remarkably diverse and apparently contradictory. This raises important questions about the role of ROs after coups. How do ROs respond to coups? Which factors influence the strength of responses? What post-coup solutions do ROs pursue and why? After defining the central concepts of the analysis, an overview of existing approaches to study the role of ROs after coups is provided. The present book exceeds existing approaches and contributes to a better understanding of the complex role of ROs by arguing that the emergence of the anti-coup norm significantly changed the attitude of ROs towards coups. In line with the provisions of the norm, ROs generally oppose coups, condemning, criticizing and sanctioning them. Yet within the framework of the anti-coup norm, ROs weigh democracy- and stability- related aspects and adjust their responses accordingly. Subsequently, the research design, a mixed-methods approach, is sketched and the findings and contributions of the study are summarized. Finally, the plan of the book is described.
Chapter 2 provides the theoretical framework. First, the development of the anti-coup norm and its impact on ROs is outlined. After the Cold War, the international attitude towards coup plotters changed and many ROs established firm anti-coup provisions. The chapter illustrates how ROs respond to coups (research question 1). Faced with a coup, ROs can choose between rhetorical, diplomatic, economic and military means, forming a continuum of increasing strength. Next, the factors which influence the choice of instruments of diverging strength are examined (research question 2). Three groups of factors are considered: characteristics of the RO, democracy- and stability-related factors. Finally, the chapter theorizes which post-coup solutions ROs pursue and why they do so (research question 3). RO responses to coups are not ends in themselves but means to achieve specific post-coup solutions, such as the reinstatement of ousted incumbents, the formation of new governments through elections, power-sharing agreements or the acceptance of coup plotters as new rulers. Four democracy- and stability-related factors influence the choice of a particular solution: how unequivocally a leader change is identified as a coup, the democratic record of the ousted incumbent, the prospects of democratization under the new leadership and the domestic power constellation.
The third chapter provides a comprehensive and detailed overview of the responses of all ROs to coup attempts in the last 30 years. First, a new dataset on RO responses to coups, including the coding procedures, the structure of the dataset and the variables is introduced. Subsequently, the most important trends in the data, including temporal developments and geographic as well as inter- and intra-organizational differences are mapped. The data show that over time the number of coups has declined, yet they continue to present a frequent phenomenon. At the same time, the number of RO responses to coups has strongly increased, pointing towards a considerably more active role of ROs after coups. RO responses cover a wide continuum of instruments, stretching from rhetorical concern and condemnation statements over diplomatic measures and economic sanctions to military options. Whereas some instruments have been used more frequently in recent years, there is no general trend towards the use of stronger responses over time. When zooming in to the diverse strategies and instruments to respond to coups in different continents and organizations, a high degree of heterogeneity and variation not only between, but also within organizations becomes apparent.
The fourth chapter examines the question why some coups are much more likely to evoke strong RO responses such as economic sanctions or military interventions, whereas others are only mildly criticized or evade negative reactions altogether. The results of the statistical analysis show that three groups of factors drive the strength of responses. First, the characteristics of the RO at hand, for instance its democracy level and its financial and military capacities, second, democracy-related aspects of the state affected by a coup and third considerations about domestic and regional stability. Further analyses indicate that irrespective of their composition ROs show noteworthy parallels in their weighing of the importance of these factors. However, there are also interesting and important differences between organizations and regions, with one remarkably exception being the EU. All essential findings are illustrated in a series of tables and graphs and their implications for the role of ROs in the context of coups are discussed in detail.
The fifth chapter addresses the question why ROs strive for differential post-coup solutions by conducting a comparative case study of four selected cases. First, details on the case selection and methods are provided before presenting the empirical findings. Following the principle of a diverse case design, cases with different post-coup solutions pursued by ROs were chosen. These include a power-sharing agreement (Madagascar in 2009), the formation of a new government through elections (Niger in 2010), the reinstatement of the ousted government (Burkina Faso in 2015) and the acceptance of the coup plotters as new state leaders (Zimbabwe in 2017). Case studies were conducted using inter alia materials and data from official RO statements, speeches, declarations and press interviews from diverse actors, reports by research institutes, NGOs and election observers, as well as newspaper coverage. In all four cases not only the question of whether a leader change was unequivocally identified as a coup, but also democracy- and stability-related factors were decisive in shaping the choice of post-coup solutions by ROs. The findings of the cases studies provide strong empirical support for the theoretical expectation that the choice of post-coup-solutions by ROs is strongly influenced by considerations related to democracy and stability.
The sixth and concluding chapter emphasizes the most important findings of the analysis, reflects upon their implications for the role of coups and illustrates their relevance for existing research and future studies. After briefly summarizing the empirical results on the analysis of the three research questions, the significance of these findings for the general role of ROs in the context of coups is discussed. In short, the chapter draws the conclusion that many ROs have successfully claimed a strong and influential role after coups. Yet central challenges, including inter-organizational differences, ambiguous and vague formulations in anti-coup provisions as well as an often opaque and not explicitly discussed mixture of democracy- and stability-related motives to respond to coups continue to impede a more consistent enforcement of the anti-coup norm. As such, ROs have a high potential to deter and combat coups but also face challenges. Finally, the chapter discusses practical and academic implications and points to avenues for future research, which could include analyses on the intra-organizational dynamics of the decision-making processes of ROs after coups and studies on inter-organizational coordination mechanisms.