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Christina Cottiero at Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library and Archives

Photos taken at the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library and in the Presidential Archives, Abeokuta, Nigeria (Jan. 2020)



Book Project

Staying Alive: Regional Organizations and Vulnerable Leaders

In my book project, I develop a theory about what motivates cooperation through regional integration organizations (RIOs) and how leaders sustain regional collective action through these organizations, particularly in contexts of heightened domestic instability. I argue that leaders with compatible security objectives use RIOs to address threats to their personal safety. RIOs coordinate protection for leaders who maintain "good standing" within the organization while balancing against excessive risk-taking behavior through inducements and punishments. I examine the circumstances in which "vulnerable" heads of state are more likely to contribute to regional security operations and to emphasize reciprocity with neighboring leaders. The book also provides a historical overview of how African RIOs have evolved to fulfil regime-protective functions.

I take a mixed methods approach to testing hypotheses drawn from the theory.  I first analyze where and when African and Middle Eastern states contribute security personnel (troops and police) for peacekeeping and other security operations.  I find that leaders facing higher coup risk are more likely to deploy to assist co-members.  I next examine whether leaders' prior contributions to regional security cooperation impact the likelihood that they will be targeted for pro-government military interventions.  I find that leaders who previously deployed personnel to support co-members (and who did so more often) are more likely to receive military support from co-members.  Third, I use a large-n qualitative design to explain how leaders' prior actions condition co-members' responses to them during security crises, closely examining eighteen West African crises.  

To link domestic sources of political vulnerability with regional cooperation, I rely on quantitative cross-national tests of new security personnel deployment data, documents gathered from Nigerian presidential archives, and interviews with West African political elites, security officials, and regional organization staff in Nigeria.

Related papers: "Protection for Hire: Cooperation through Regional Organizations" (Published at International Studies Quarterly)

"To Defend or Disown: Reciprocity and Biased Regional Interventions in West Africa" (R&R at International Security)

Presented at APSA 2021

Original Datasets: 1. Troop and police deployments by African and Middle Eastern states, 1990-2018

2. African regional organization interventions in member state crises, 1990-2018

Authoritarian International Cooperation

Part of my research agenda addresses how autocratic regional intergovernmental organizations around the globe help member state leaders in their attempts to stymie liberalization.  A series of co-authored and solo-authored papers address the activities of authoritarian RIOs, including their roles in election monitoring and lending to member states. Updates related to this series of projects are/will be hosted at UC IGCC.  The project was supported by the Smith Richardson Foundation and the UC Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation from 2021-2024.

"Stabilizing Authoritarian Rule: The Role of International Institutions" with Stephan Haggard (Published at International Studies Quarterly)

Presented at APSA 2019, ISA 2021.

"Illiberal Regimes and International Cooperation" with Emilie Hafner-Burton, Stephan Haggard, Lauren Prather, and Christina Schneider (Forthcoming at The Review of International Organizations)

In Preparation: "Authoritarian Regionalism Revisited" with Stephan Haggard

The Authoritarian Regional Organizations Dataset I document the scope of cooperation exhibited by regional political, security and economic IOs with predominantly autocratic members from 1945 to the present.  

"Introducing the Authoritarian Regional Organizations Dataset, 1945-2019" (under review)                                    Presented at ISA 2022

Authoritarian Election Monitoring We track the presence international election monitoring groups at all national elections in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Central-Eastern Europe between 2000-2020.  

“Zombies Ahead: Explaining the Rise of Low-Quality Election Monitoring” with Sarah Bush and Lauren Prather (Forthcoming at The Review of International Organizations)

(Papers in progress with Sarah Bush and Lauren Prather)

Authoritarian RIO Lending  We track the financial commitments of authoritarian regional lending institutions to member states.

“International Financial Institutions and the Promotion of Autocratic Resilience” Paper in progress with Christina Schneider

Exile Destinations of Former Heads of State: I build on existing datasets to provide more information about the paths leaders take as they flee their home country into exile, including their first, second, and third destinations (as applicable), their legal status, and more.


"Taking the Cloth: How Religious Appeals Increase Compliance
with Covid-19 Prevention Measures"
with Claire Adida, Leonardo Falabella, Isabel Gotti, ShahBano Ijaz, Gregoire Phillips, and Michael Seese   (Open Access at the Journal of Experimental Political Science)

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