Summit meetings: good or bad for peace?

Daniel Druckman, Peter Wallensteen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The systematic study of summit diplomacy, its role in international relations, and its contribution to world peace is remarkably scant. The research presented here is a step forward in understanding the significance of direct, personal, face-to-face meetings between top leaders in dominant states. Such summits continue to generate a lot of attention, often preceded with high expectations and leaving in disappointment. This article will present a unique dataset of summit meetings between the United States and its main competitor for global influence, the Soviet Union and modern Russia. We begin with the first meeting ever between Roosevelt and Stalin in 1943 in Tehran, Iran and end with a 2014 meeting between Obama and Putin in Brisbane, Australia. The data are used to evaluate several hypotheses about relationships between summit meetings and armed conflict. Our findings suggest that the summit meetings have been motivated by conflicts but do not contribute to their management. Wars involving Russia also account for the relationship between summit frequency and international cooperation. These results raise questions about the conflict-managing functions of summit meetings.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)71-92
Number of pages22
JournalGlobal Summitry: politics, economics, and law in international governance
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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