Third-Party Intervention and Strategic Militarization

Adam Meirowitz, Massimo Morelli, Kristopher W. Ramsay, Francesco Squintani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Codified at the 2005 United Nations World Summit, the doctrine of Responsibility to Protect articulates an ideal of international interventions motivated by compassion for victims and a desire to bring stability to hot-spots around the world. Despite this consensus, practitioners and scholars have debated the importance of unintended consequences stemming from the expectation of third-party intervention. We analyze how third-party intervention shapes the incentives to arm, negotiate settlements, and fight wars in a parsimonious game theoretic model. Among the unintended consequences we find: interventions that indiscriminately lower the destructiveness of war increase the probability of conflict and increasing the cost of arming makes destructive wars more likely. Other interventions, however, can have much more beneficial effects and our analysis highlights peace-enhancing forms of third-party intervention. From a welfare perspective, most interventions do not change the ex-ante loss from war, but do have distributional effects on the terms of peace. As a result R2P principles are hard to implement because natural forms of intervention create incentives that make them largely self-defeating.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)31-59
Number of pages29
JournalQuarterly Journal of Political Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 24 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


  • Asymmetric information
  • Conflict
  • Intervention policies
  • Strategic militarization


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