Governance, Democracy and Peace: How State Capacity and Regime Type Influence the Prospects for War and Peace

This white paper offers a synthetic review of empirical evidence on the elements of state governance that affect interstate and intrastate armed conflict. In the first part of the paper we examine state capacity and institutional quality. 

Key Findings

We observe that peace is associated with security capacity and the ability of states to control and defend territory. It is also associated with social capacity, defined as the ability to provide public goods and support social welfare. The second half of the paper looks at regime type, focusing on the democratic peace effect and the characteristics of governance that are most strongly associated with peace. We find that democratic institutions are most conducive to peace when they are inclusive, representative, accountable, and transparent.

  • Fully mature democratic state with high threshold scores on indicators of voice and accountability have the lowest risk of war and armed conflict.
  • Effective institutions prevent armed conflict when they provide security and civilian services, and when they are inclusive and representative.
  • Governments are better able to prevent armed conflict if they have strong institutions and maintain effective control over their territory, and if they provide the full range of public goods, including essential services.