The Uzbekistan-Kyrgyzstan border: Institutional legitimacy and regional stability
Drexler, Adam W.
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Examining the political and social consequences of coercive border enforcement, this thesis hypothesizes that unilateral border hardening erodes institutional legitimacy and undermines regional stability. Relying on a case study of the Uzbekistan–Kyrgyzstan border in Central Asia's Ferghana Valley, the thesis finds that border hardening is likely to change local perceptions of the border, diminish its overall institutional legitimacy, and weaken regional stability. Border institutions depend on a mixture of willing obedience and coercion by the state to obtain social compliance. Coercive and illegitimate means of border enforcement may have unintended consequences, undermining perceptions of legitimacy and leading to a logic of escalation of border hardening measures. This may in turn necessitate increasing levels of coercive border enforcement in order to achieve social compliance. Perceptions of border legitimacy influence the extent to which individuals voluntarily comply with border rules. Methods of border hardening are nearly always regarded as illegitimate and coercive when they adversely affect the local population. Policy-makers and military leaders must move beyond simple assumptions about borders as barriers in order to balance short- and long-term factors of security, strengthen a border's institutional legitimacy, and promote regional stability.
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