Conditionality–the use of incentives to alter a state's behavior or policies–is a core strategy through which international institutions promote compliance by national governments. While traditionally associated with World Bank and especially International Monetary Fund (IMF) lending programs, the use of political conditionality has grown dramatically in recent years. Perhaps nowhere is this more evident than in post-Cold War Europe, with organizations such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), European Union (EU) and Council of Europe (CE) offering membership to various countries in East Europe and the former Soviet Union. The conditions they impose upon applicants–restructuring of civil-military relations, establishment of the rule of law, creation of new human rights agencies–go far beyond the standard IMF conditionality package and instead intrude into the core socio-political attributes of these states.
Indeed, the last decade has seen an explosion in both the overall use of conditionality and a change in its underlying purpose, with the promotion of political and institutional reform now on a par with the economic sort. In itself, such "mission creep" is no problem. However, difficulties arise–in Russia, Ukraine and elsewhere in East and Central Europe–when it is not coupled with a more multi-faceted set of conditionality strategies. […]