Journal of Global Security Stud. 5(2), 2020, pp. 265-81
Research suggests that military interveners often seek endorsements from regional international organizations (IOs), in addition to approval from the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), to reassure international and domestic audiences. Toward that end, interveners should seek the endorsement of continent-wide regional IOs with the broadest and most diverse membership, which are most likely to be independent. In practice, however, interveners often seek endorsements from subregional IOs with narrow membership and aggregate preferences similar to their own. This should weaken the reassurance/legitimation effect significantly. I argue that such narrower regional endorsements are sought not so much to reassure skeptical audiences, as to pressure reluctant UNSC members to approve the intervention by putting those members’ relations with regional partners at stake. To illustrate this argument and probe its plausibility, I reconstruct France's successful efforts to obtain UNSC approval for its interventions in Côte d'Ivoire (2002–2003) and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (2003) at a time when the United States was hesitant to support France because of the two countries’ falling-out over the Iraq War. For evidence I rely on original interviews with senior French and US officials.