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If Only Half of International Agreements Have Dispute Resolution Provisions, Which Half Needs Explaining?

  • Barbara Koremenos
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    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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    File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/509275
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    Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal The Journal of Legal Studies.

    Volume (Year): 36 (2007)
    Issue (Month): 1 (01)
    Pages: 189-212

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    Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlstud:v:36:y:2007:p:189-212
    DOI: 10.1086/509275
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/JLS/

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    1. Marc L. Busch, 2000. "Democracy, Consultation, and the Paneling of Disputes under GATT," Journal of Conflict Resolution, Peace Science Society (International), vol. 44(4), pages 425-446, August.
    2. Steinberg, Richard H., 2002. "In the Shadow of Law or Power? Consensus-Based Bargaining and Outcomes in the GATT/WTO," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 56(02), pages 339-374, March.
    3. Abbott, Kenneth W. & Keohane, Robert O. & Moravcsik, Andrew & Slaughter, Anne-Marie & Snidal, Duncan, 2000. "The Concept of Legalization," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 54(03), pages 401-419, June.
    4. Schwartz, Warren F & Sykes, Alan O, 2002. "The Economic Structure of Renegotiation and Dispute Resolution in the World Trade Organization," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 31(1), pages S179-204, January.
    5. Eric A. Posner & Miguel F. P. de Figueiredo, 2005. "Is the International Court of Justice Biased?," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 34(2), pages 599-630, 06.
    6. Guzman, Andrew & Simmons, Beth A, 2002. "To Settle or Empanel? An Empirical Analysis of Litigation and Settlement at the World Trade Organization," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 31(1), pages S205-35, January.
    7. Koremenos, Barbara & Lipson, Charles & Snidal, Duncan, 2001. "The Rational Design of International Institutions," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 55(04), pages 761-799, September.
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