If Only Half of International Agreements Have Dispute Resolution Provisions, Which Half Needs Explaining?
An examination of a random sample of international agreements that are conditional on four issue areas shows that only about one out of every two agreements has any dispute resolution provision. This observation begs for an explanation, and which half needs explaining depends on where one is sitting. Do power politics dominate international law, or does the law provide a fundamental order? Employing a rational choice framework, I focus on a set of independent variables that capture the cooperation problem being addressed by members to an agreement and put forth conjectures explaining the inclusion of dispute resolution provisions. Using newly collected data, I find that agreements that address complex cooperation problems, that is, problems characterized by uncertainty, prisoner's dilemma–like incentives to defect, and/or time inconsistency, are more likely to include such provisions. I therefore suggest that international law is quite efficient, with states not creating and/or delegating dispute resolution authority when it is unlikely to be needed.
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