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Bargaining, Enforcement, and Multilateral Sanctions: When Is Cooperation Counterproductive?


  • Drezner, Daniel W.


Scholars and policymakers generally assume that multilateral cooperation is a necessary condition for economic sanctions to be of any use. However, previous statistical tests of this assumption have shown that sanctions are more successful with lower levels of cooperation. This puzzle calls into question established theories of economic statecraft as well as theories of international cooperation. In this article I test possible explanations for the ineffectiveness of multilateral cooperation on sanctions events using James Fearon's (1998) breakdown of cooperation into bargaining and enforcement phases as a framework for discussion The empirical results show that when multilateral economic sanctions fail, their failure is due to enforcement, not bargaining problems Without the support of an international organization, cooperating states backslide from promises of cooperation Backsliding occurs because of domestic political pressures and uncertainty about the intentions of the other sanctioning countries; backsliding causes an initial burst of cooperative behavior to decay over time. Without institutional support, cooperation is worse than useless—it is counterproductive. This result suggests that international cooperation is a more fragile equilibrium than previously thought but undercuts realist arguments that international organizations are unimportant.

Suggested Citation

  • Drezner, Daniel W., 2000. "Bargaining, Enforcement, and Multilateral Sanctions: When Is Cooperation Counterproductive?," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 54(01), pages 73-102, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:intorg:v:54:y:2000:i:01:p:73-102_44

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    Cited by:

    1. Caruso Raul, 2003. "The Impact of International Economic Sanctions on Trade: An Empirical Analysis," Peace Economics, Peace Science, and Public Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 9(2), pages 1-36, April.
    2. repec:kap:iecepo:v:14:y:2017:i:4:d:10.1007_s10368-017-0376-4 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Rixen, Thomas, 2008. "The institutional design of international double taxation avoidance
      [Das Design der internationalen Institutionen zur Vermeidung von Doppelbesteuerung]
      ," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Global Governance SP IV 2008-302, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB).
    4. Denise Guthrie & Erick Duchesne, 2003. "(Mis)Selection Effects and Sovereignty Costs: An Alternative Measure of the Costs of Sanctions," University of Western Ontario, Economic Policy Research Institute Working Papers 20032, University of Western Ontario, Economic Policy Research Institute.
    5. Zornitsa Kutlina-Dimitrova, 2017. "The economic impact of the Russian import ban: a CGE analysis," International Economics and Economic Policy, Springer, vol. 14(4), pages 537-552, October.
    6. Jiawen Yang & Hossein Askari & John Forrer & Lili Zhu, 2009. "How Do US Economic Sanctions Affect EU's Trade with Target Countries?," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 32(8), pages 1223-1244, August.
    7. Scott Helfstein, 2012. "Liabilities of Globalization: Sovereign Debt, International Investors and Interstate Conflict with Other People's Money," International Finance, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 15(3), pages 277-288, December.
    8. Brzoska Michael, 2008. "Measuring the Effectiveness of Arms Embargoes," Peace Economics, Peace Science, and Public Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 14(2), pages 1-34, July.

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