Onderco, M & van Hooft, P. “Informalization of Nonproliferation: Why PSI is a problematic solution”Chinese Journal of International Politics. 9 (1): 81-108.
Informal institutions, such as the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), have increasingly been at the forefront of global efforts to counter the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Yet a number of countries that have strong non-proliferation credentials and incentives to stop likely proliferators have hesitated to join it. We use insights from the alliance theory to explain this counterintuitive situation, and frame the decisions of states considering joining the PSI as maximizing between security, autonomy, and influence. We argue that while PSI and similar institutions are flexible and less rigid in nature, they also act as less of a constraint on the more powerful states than IOs that reduce uncertainty by freezing existing hierarchies in place. . We then look at a collection of states that vary in their positions towards American hegemony, and we find that security interests are predominantly decisive among hegemonic and supporter states, and nuclear capable states, in favour of supporting PSI, while counterhegemonic motivations are largely decisive among states that reject PSI. Consequently, the perceived lack of legitimacy of informal frameworks with states sceptical of US hegemony undermines not only the long-term effectiveness of such frameworks, but also reinforces scepticism of US hegemony. The desirability of the increasing informalisation of security arrangements should therefore be reappraised in the light of systemic stability.