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Should I stay or should I go? State Exits from Regional Organizations

Funding: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft 

Principal Investigator: Prof. Dr. Diana Panke


The withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union (EU) recently made headlines, attracting a lot of public and scholarly attention. BREXIT is not the only instance in which a member state exited a regional organization (RO). In fact, there are 49 withdrawals from ROs between the years 1945-2020. Studying these withdrawals is important as they can harm international cooperation and potentially trigger further disintegration in the longer run that could even endanger the multilateral world order as we know it. Not all states are equally inclined to leave ROs. In fact, the withdrawals from ROs are mainly driven by smaller states. Also, while some ROs were subject to several withdrawals (e.g. Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa), others experienced just one exit (e.g. the EU) and yet others never lost members (e.g. MERCOSUR). Whereas there is work on state exits from IOs, major findings, do not travel to ROs. As of yet, we do not know why states leave ROs and why some ROs are subject to more withdrawals than others, although understanding exits is of great importance for society and scholars alike. Thus, this project seeks to uncover the reasons behind the phenomenon of state exits from ROs and addresses the research questions: (1) Why are some states more inclined to exit ROs than others? (2) Why are some ROs more prone to state withdrawals than others?

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