Territory and Commitment: The Concert of Europe as Self-Enforcing Equilibrium

Branislav L. Slantchev

Security Studies, Vol. 14, No. 4. (October, 2005), pp. 565-606.


The pattern of cooperative behavior seen in the Concert of Europe during the first half of the nineteenth century resulted from a commitment to uphold the settlement, which hinged on the credibility of enforcement threats and a distribution of benefits commensurate with military capabilities. The equilibrium was self-enforcing because the powers that could oppose an alteration of the system had incentives to do so, and the powers that could upset it did not have incentives to do so. This behavior is markedly different from eighteenth-century practices, although no change in state preferences is necessary to explain the change in behavior.


territorial settlement, credible commitment, international institutions, Congress of Vienna, Concert of Europe, balance of power