News | Nov. 12, 2019

Moral hazard at sea: how alliances actually increase low-level maritime provocations between allies

By Dr. Hayoun Ryou-Ellison Journal

The management of maritime claims is becoming an important issue in the study of interstate conflict. Since World War II, most contested maritime claims have been associated with low-level conflict (mainly shows of force, or what we call maritime provocations) and have not resulted in fatalities. However, what is puzzling is that many competing claims are also associated with states that are alliance partners. To explain this puzzle, we trace the management of maritime claims to states’ participation in different types of security institutions. We argue that joint membership in highly institutionalized security organizations, namely defensive alliances, provides aggrieved challenger states with the opportunity to undermine the position of defending states by using low-level maritime provocations. Read the publication here.