Regional cooperation is widely acknowledged as a crucial element in fostering peace and prosperity among nations, yet few systematic studies have investigated the forces that promote and sustain it. This dissertation examines regional cooperation through the lens of states, state-led institutions, and non-state actors. In order to achieve this, the study first aims to undertake a systematic analysis of the correlates associated with regional cooperation, using country pairings to analyze where cooperation takes place. Second, I explore the role of international civil society in promoting regional cooperation. To gauge international civil society, a new dataset on International Non-Governmental Organizations (INGOs) is constructed and introduced. The first part of my dissertation constructs two datasets on International Non-Governmental Organizations (INGOs). There is no ready-to-use, publicly available data source in the literature for researchers wishing to analyze INGOs systematically. There are a variety of online data sources, but none are based on identified inclusion criteria. I identify as INGOs all United Nations- accredited NGOs and construct two datasets: one of the INGOs and the other of INGOs at the state-year level of analysis. Both datasets can be integrated with other datasets, facilitating engagement with a broad range of research questions. While the INGO-level dataset provides information for 6,595 INGOs from 1816 to 2022, the state-level dataset includes 15,024 state-year observations from 1946 to 2022. The second part of the dissertation investigates the conditions under which regional countries engage in cooperation. Analyses of memberships in 76 regional organizations from 1945 to 2012 yield several factors as significant forces of regional cooperation. In order of importance, these are joint democracy, joint language, equal material capability, and trade interdependence. I found that weaker countries are more hesitant to cooperate with stronger ones within regions. At the theoretical level, this research supports a liberal explanation for regional interstate organization, emphasizing factors such as trade and democracy, over a hegemonic realist explanation that centers on power asymmetry. The third part of the dissertation examines the role of international civil society in regional cooperation. Drawing on the new INGO dataset, I found that the more international non-governmental organizations shared by two countries in a dyad in a year, the more likely the two countries share common memberships in Regional Organizations (ROs), Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs), and Regional Trade Agreements (RTAs). Even after accounting for such factors as democracy, economic status, and alliances, the results yield a robust correlation between the engagement of INGOs and the advancement of regional interstate cooperation.


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Graduation Date





Mousseau, Michael


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Sciences


School of Politics, Security and International Affairs

Degree Program

Security Studies


CFE0009741; DP0027849





Release Date

August 2023

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)