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States often use reservations to modify their treaty obligations. Prior research demonstrates why states enter reservations and why states object to reservations, but little work explains why states withdraw them. We argue that states withdraw reservations in response to international social pressure. Using novel data on reservations and reservation withdrawals for the nine core international human rights treaties, our analyses reveal two factors that compel states to withdraw reservations: (1) pressure from peer states and (2) pressure from human rights treaty bodies conducting periodic reviews. While previous work emphasizes domestic factors, our research shows that the international community encourages states to withdraw reservations and strengthen their commitments to human rights and international law.
This research note hypothesizes that international agreements including a finite duration provision or with a shorter expected duration should take less time to negotiate. Using a random sample of agreements across different issue areas, it finds statistical support for this hypothesis. Agreements without a finite duration provision experienced a bargaining phase that was twice as long as agreements including a finite duration provision and otherwise short-term agreements. This result not only offers empirical support for the theoretical proposition that a longer shadow of the future leads to increased bargaining delay—it also has important policy implications. International negotiators can include a finite duration provision when they prefer a shorter bargaining phase to a potentially more durable agreement, and they can avoid this feature when they prefer a more durable agreement, although this decision comes with the cost of additional bargaining delay. By treating finite duration provisions as an independent variable, this result also addresses a critique of the research program on the rational design of international institutions that it moves backward by considering only design features as dependent variables.
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