Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Political Science

Major Professor

Krista E. Wiegand

Committee Members

Wonjae Hwang, Eric Keels, David Houston


It is puzzling why autocracies, which typically are not renowned for their human rights record or their observance of international norms related to human rights and are frequently inured in their own violent conflicts, would choose to take on the seemingly humanitarian role of peacemaker as often as democracies in the conflicts of other states in the absence of such things as a former colonial relationship or shared geographic proximity with them. I argue that autocracies will offer more often to mediate when they are subjected to international scrutiny, sanctioning, and/or condemnation, as well as materially and immaterially benefitting from their efforts afterwards. I also posit that based on institutional attributes such as the presence of a professional bureaucracy (such as is found in a party “machine” autocracy) or by contrast an all-powerful autocrat (such as is found in personalist regimes), different autocratic regime-types will be more likely to offer to mediate than others. To test my theory, I utilize Large-N datasets about international mediation and autocratic regimes, as well as qualitative sources including information derived from the United Nations, the U.S. State Department, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, news articles/reports, and statements and criticisms from various states, in order to investigate when autocracies offer to mediate interstate conflicts, as well as which types of autocracies are most likely to offer to mediate an end to an international conflict. Quantitative analysis yielded some inconclusive results, however finding that Party-based autocracies are most likely to offer to mediate an international conflict when being sanctioned relative to other types of autocracies, while qualitative analysis did indeed uncover evidence that when being subjected to international condemnation and scrutiny, autocracies are likely to offer to mediate international conflict.

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