Is the Concert of Europe an example of a successful collective security regime?
Robert Jervis states that the Concert of Europe is “The best example of a security regime” and is an example of collective security working to prevent the outbreak of wars in Europe. However many realists argue that collective security can never work due to the self interested nature of states.
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Rules and Norms
Jervis’ conditions for an International Regime are: The powers must wish to maintain the status quo, believe that others share the value they put on mutual security, be willing to forgo short term gains, also war and expansion must be seen as costly. [Robert Jervis, ‘Security Regimes’ International Organization, Vol. 36, No. 2, International Regimes (Spring, 1982), pp. 357-378, http://www.jstor.org/pss/2706526%5D%5D
The concert created the rules and norms that characterise an international regime. First to reduce the risk of conflict there was mutual consultation, advance notification, buffer states, neutralised territories, and delineating interests. Then to prevent a conflict turning to war active: diplomacy, mediation and arbitration with possible sanctions, and if necessary intervention.
[Paul Gordon Lauren, ‘Crisis Prevention in Nineteenth Century Diplomacy’, in Alexander L. George (ed.) Managing U.S.-Soviet Rivalry: Problems of Crisis Prevention, (Westview Press, Boulder, 1983), pp.31-54.]]
“Despite the Concert often being called a collective security regime, it was nothing of the sort” [Branislav L. Slantchev, ‘Territory and Commitment: The Concert of Europe as Self enforcing Equilibrium”, Security Studies, Vol. 14, No. 4, (2005) http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/title~content=t713636712%5D%5D
Legitimacy and Equlibrium
Rather than striving for maximum gains states strived for equilibrium. This was based not just on power but also on legitimacy. Equilibrium required a balance of the rights, influence and vital interests of the states against each other and the community as a whole as well as a balance between the goals pursued by the states. The powers had shared goals and values. [Paul W. Schroeder, ‘the nineteenth century system: balance of power or political equilibrium’, Review of International Studies, Vol.15, (1989), pp.135-153.]]
“Collective Security has never worked.” Human history is one of war and conflict not of cooperation, states are unwilling to put aside their own self interests that would be necessary to create collective security.[Stephen Van Evera, Causes of War: Power and the Roots of Conflict, (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1999), p.251.]]
There are examples of the concert preventing conflict breaking out and of collective action on the part of the powers: The Belgian Crisis 1831
All 5 powers had a stake in the outcome – the eastern powers did not want revolution, Britain, Russia and Prussia had dynastic ties to the Netherlands, and For France Belgium was an opportunity to break out of the Quadruple alliance. None could risk war in the heart of Europe, meaning a diplomatic solution had to be found.[Mathew Rendall, ‘A Qualified Sucess for Collective Security: The Concert of Europe and the Belgian Crisis, 1831’, Diplomacy and Statecraft, Vol. 18, No. 2, pp.271-295. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09592290701322358%5D%5D
More recently since the cold war the Gulf War can be seen as an example of collective action on the part of the great powers.
length of time
The Concert of Europe did not last very long. Jervis only places the concert between 1815 and 1823; this is hardly a long enough period to be able to say it worked.
With no recognised end date for the concert leading different historians and International Relations scholars advance different possible dates. Bridge argues that the concert system disappeared after 1823,[Roy Bridge, ‘Allied Diplomacy in Peacetime: the Failure of the Congress ‘System’ 1815-23’, in Alan Sked ed. Europe’s Balance of Power 1815-1848, (Macmillan, Basingstoke, 1979), pp.34-53]] while for AJP Taylor puts the revolutionary year of 1848 as the end of the concert.[A.J.P. Taylor, The Struggle for Mastery in Europe 1848-1918, (Clarendon Press, Oxford)]] Paul Schroeder on the other hand maintains that the concert lasted much longer, even experiencing a revival with Bismarck’s web of alliances, and lasting until the build up to the First World War.[Paul W. Schroeder, ‘the nineteenth century system: balance of power or political equilibrium’, Review of International Studies, Vol.15, (1989), pp.135-153.]]
Today our international regimes have structures such as a secretariat, a headquarters, and regular meetings. The Concert did not have either of the first two and there were no formal congresses after the congress of Aix le Chapelle meaning that although the rules and norms may still have been in place there was no formal structure to international ‘regime’ after 1823.[Bridge, 'Congress System’, p.52.]]
While there were many fewer congresses they did not completely end. There were still congresses to settle major questions, such as the congress of Berlin in 1888 on the ‘Eastern’ question. The congresses can be seen as leading to the summit diplomacy of today with big meetings of the G7 leaders or member s of international organisations.
The Concert is all the more remarkable for not needing a headquarters or secretariat, it did have a series of ambassadors conferences that operated almost continually in the capitals of the member states that would almost work like a secretariat.
Balance of Power not Concert
It was the balance of power not an international regime that kept the peace in Europe during the nineteenth century.[Taylor, The Struggle for Mastery in Europe]]
The distribution of power within the system, far from being a balance, was hegemonic, with a shared British and Russian hegemony. This was supplemented by local hegemonies such as hegemony over Italy for Austria and a joint Austro-Prussian hegemony in Germany.[Paul W. Schroeder, ‘Did the Vienna Settlement Rest on a Balance of Power?’ The American Historical Review, Vol.97, No.3, (June, 1992), pp.683-706 (I need someone with jstor access to provide the stable link to this!)]]
What do you think?