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Mershon Center for International Security Studies

Study shows how nations follow others in ratifying agreements

Skyler Cranmer

New research shows just how powerful the United States’ and other countries’ influence can be on persuading other nations to ratify international treaties.

The first-of-its-kind study shows the influence of countries in treaty ratification can extend beyond their close allies and could even help persuade rivals to join agreements.

“The simple act of a single country ratifying a treaty can have dramatic ramifications for what other countries do in ways that haven’t always been apparent,” said Mershon affiliate Skyler Cranmer, co-author of the study and the Carter Phillips and Sue Henry associate professor of political science at The Ohio State University.

In an article published March 7, 2019, in PLOS ONE, the researchers debuted a model that could predict how other countries would react when an individual country ratified one of 198 international environmental agreements between 1972 and 2000.

For example, the study found that the United States’ signing of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 1992 may have influenced Russia to ratify the treaty. Without action by the United States, Russia would have had only a 40 percent probability of signing the treaty, according to the model.

“Superpowers can influence each other even if they’re rivals and their interests aren’t always aligned,” Cranmer said.

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Aisha Ahmad

For two decades, militant jihadism has been one of the world's most pressing security crises. In civil wars and insurgencies across the Muslim world, certain Islamist groups have taken advantage of the anarchy to establish political control over a broad range of territories and communities. In effect, they have built radical new jihadist proto-states.

Why have some ideologically-inspired Islamists been able to build state-like polities out of civil war stalemate, while many other armed groups have failed to gain similar traction?

In Jihad & Co.: Black Markets and Islamist Power (Oxford University Press, 2017), Aisha Ahmad argues that there are concrete economic reasons behind Islamist success. By tracking the economic activities of jihadist groups in Afghanistan, Somalia, Pakistan, Mali, and Iraq, she uncovers an unlikely actor in bringing Islamist groups to power: the local business community.

Jihad & Co. is winner of the Mershon Center's Edgar S. Furniss Award, given annually to an author whose first book makes an exceptional contribution to the study of national and international security. Ahmad will speak about the book at the Mershon Center on Tuesday, April 23, 2019, at 3:30 p.m.. Read more and register at go.osu.edu/ahmada

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The Mershon Center for International Security Studies invites applications for conferences and speaker series on international security issues for the 2019-2020 academic year.

The Mershon Center understands international security from a wide range of perspectives, approaches, and substantive foci. The center places an especially strong emphasis on supporting interdisciplinary research. Applicants are encouraged to develop collaborative proposals for conferences and speaker series that bridge disciplinary boundaries.

Proposals will be evaluated on the basis of the following criteria:

  • Relevance to international security issues broadly conceived
  • The extent to which they bridge two or more disciplinary perspectives
  • The inclusion of diverse perspectives, theoretical approaches, and methodologies.

All applications should include a 500-word description of the conference or speaker series topic that addresses the three criteria described above. Proposals should include any relevant information on planned presentation format or activities as well as any planned professional products from the activities. Applicants are encouraged to explore novel formats, themes, and professional activities.

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What is Realist Foreign Policy conference poster

Realism is the oldest theory of international relations. On March 1-2, the Mershon Center for International Security Studies will host a conference on "What is Realist Foreign Policy?" organized by Professor of Political Science Randy Schweller.

From the sophists and Thucydides, Machiavelli and Hobbes, to E.H. Carr, Reinhold Niebuhr, and Hans Morgenthau, to Kenneth Waltz, Robert Jervis, and John Mearsheimer, realism as an intellectual construct has dominated the study of international relations.

Given the primacy of the realist approach and its compelling explanations of state behavior and the dynamics of the international system, does realism consistently provide the most reliable guidance for statecraft? More fundamentally, what precisely is realist foreign policy? How do we know it when we see it? For instance, in his State of the Union address delivered this month, President Trump called himself a "principled realist." What does he mean?

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