As the number and the expansion in scope of regional organizations has spread over the last twenty years (Tavares 2009), the way regional organizations collectively perform collective security governance has become a focus of attention. This concern has been taken forward at three levels. First, work has been undertaken on the goals and principles of regional organizations and their institutional mechanisms and autonomy (Tavares 2009; Laursen 2010). Specific questions have dealt with the perception of threats by regional organizations and the means or instrument chosen to respond to the perceived threats (Kirchner and Sperling 2002). Second, studies have taken place on the extent to which regional organizations perform security functions. i.e., whether they cover the full range of policies of prevention, assurance, protection and compellence, or concentrate on one or a few security aspects (Kirchner and Sperling 2007). Third, analysis has been put forward on whether member states contribute equally in terms of resources or manpower to the collective performance of security or defence functions or do so unevenly? In their seminal study on NATO by Olsen and Zeckhauser (1966) found that smaller NATO member states were contributing unevenly to the collective good. This study was further complemented by Todd Sandler and colleagues with the conceptual tool of public supply technologies and the notion of 'publicness' (Sandler 1977; Sandler and Murdoch 2000; Sandler and Hartley 2001; Shizumu and Sandler 2002). In contrast to the 'exploitation thesis' identified by Olsen and Zeckhauser (1966), Dorussen, Kirchner and Sperling (2009) found that in EU security governance smaller states contributed evenly on a number of functions (policies of prevention and assurance) and that 'free-riding' did not pose a serious problem to the provision of EU collective security goods. Whilst with few exceptions (e.g., Tavares 2009) research on these three levels has been devoted to individual regional organizations, the task of the proposed paper will be to present the findings of a comparative study of ten regional organizations in Africa, Asia, Europe, the Caribbean and Latin America. It will cover the rationale, principles, goals, Institutional innovations and performance of these organizations across policies of prevention, assurance (peace building), protection and compellence (peace making and enforcement). The benefits of such a comparative and empirical study are that they will allow identifying patterns of convergence and divergence among regional organizations with regard to their goals and institutional design and behavioural characteristics across four security policy dimensions. The assessment will apply the concept of security governance (as developed by Webber et al 2004 and Kirchner 2006).The respective organizations are the African Union, ASEAN, the Andean Community of Nations, the Caribbean Community, Mercosur, the Organization of American States, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the EU, NATO and the OSCE.
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