Institutional Overlap and Responses to Political Crises in South America

Weiffen, Brigitte (2017). Institutional Overlap and Responses to Political Crises in South America. In: Suarez, Marcial A.G.; Duarte Villa, Rafael and Weiffen, Brigitte eds. Power Dynamics and Regional Security in Latin America. London: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 173–197.



The current regional security architecture in South America is characterized by a proliferation of institutions. Most regional organizations have by now adopted mechanisms to respond to domestic political crises and unconstitutional changes of government. This chapter studies whether overlapping mandates and activities in the management of political crises are harmful or beneficial for regional cooperation. The first part theorizes the effects of overlap on member states’ strategies, regional organizations’ interaction patterns, and the policy outcome. The second part explores overlapping democracy clauses in South America and analyzes six episodes where OAS, MERCOSUR, and/or UNASUR have simultaneously taken action in defense of democracy. The results show that, in the face of power shifts and competitive inter-organizational dynamics, overlapping actions by regional organizations might jeopardize the norms they set out to protect.

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