Compliance and Consequence: The Coexistence of Neoliberal Institutionalism and Realist States in a Nuclear World

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Caitlin J. McLain


The Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) was established to stop the use of nuclear testing as outlined in the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). At present, the CTBT has 166 state signatories, however, without the addition of the eight Annex II states (states that must ratify the CTBT for it to enter into force: United States of America (USA), China, India, Pakistan, Israel, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), Iran, and Egypt), the CTBT cannot be fulfilled. The CTBTO is a liberal institution amid a realist-dominated world and without a proper understanding of the dynamics of this relationship, the CTBT will fail to be a successful and monumental document for the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons. The goal of the CTBTO is to end the 20+ year delay the CTBT has seen since its original adoption in 1996. Special attention ought to be placed on compliance with international treaties and why these consequences are not realistic. This paper looks at the existence of liberal institutionalism in a realist world. Liberal institutions succeed when clearly defined verification is instituted. Additionally, there is an exploration of the relationship between liberal institutions and realist states. The liberal institutional perspective is that international institutions are created out of the self-interest of states (Stein, 1999). The realist perspective in this paper will be offensive realism. Proponents of offensive realism believe that states act to gain as much power as they can in order to maintain security (Mearsheimer, 2013).

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