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A growing body of research applies behavioral approaches to the study of international law, mainly by studying convenience samples of students or other segments of the general public. Alongside the promises of this agenda are concerns about applying findings from non-elite populations to the people, and groups of people, charged with most real-world decision-making in the domain of law and governance. This concern is compounded by the fact that it is extremely difficult to recruit these actual decision-makers in a way that allows for direct study.
Political corruption is a massive barrier to economic development and good governance. International institutions have become leaders in the effort to combat the problem. A growing number of such institutions have crafted official anticorruption rules, procedures and policies designed to deter the abuse of power within their membership and within institutional practice. Despite these regulatory developments, little is known about the role these institutions play in influencing corruption or whether the growing set of governance rules now in place have any effect.
Our contribution to this symposium speaks to the origins of international organization (IO) reputation. The one explored by Daugirdas is agency slack: when people delegated power and authority within an organization—in her example, UN peacekeepers and their surrounding bureaucracy—abuse their privilege and stain the institution's character. We explore another that can spark similar reactions and consequences, but which emanates from the behavior of the principals themselves (rather than their agents): the member states. The company an IO keeps—how members behave—can bolster or stain the organization's reputation. That in turn can have consequences, especially for organizations seeking to provide a venue for members to make credible commitments.
It is often assumed that government-sponsored election violence increases the probability that incumbent leaders remain in power. Using cross-national data, this article shows that election violence increases the probability of incumbent victory, but can generate risky post-election dynamics. These differences in the consequences of election violence reflect changes in the strategic setting over the course of the election cycle. In the pre-election period, anti-incumbent collective action tends to be focused on the election itself, either through voter mobilization or opposition-organized election boycotts. In the post-election period, by contrast, when a favorable electoral outcome is no longer a possibility, anti-government collective action more often takes the form of mass political protest, which in turn can lead to costly repercussions for incumbent leaders.
There is heated debate over the wisdom and effect of secrecy in international negotiations. This debate has become central to the process of foreign investment arbitration because parties to disputes nearly always can choose to hide arbitral outcomes from public view. Working with a new database of disputes at the world's largest investor-state arbitral institution, the World Bank's International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes, the authors examine the incentives of firms and governments to keep the details of their disputes secret. The authors argue that secrecy in the context of investment arbitration works like a flexibility-enhancing device, similar to the way escape clauses function in the context of international trade. To attract and preserve investment, governments make contractual and treaty-based promises to submit to binding arbitration in the event of a dispute. They may prefer secrecy in cases when they are under strong political pressure to adopt policies that violate international legal norms designed to protect investor interests. Investors favor secrecy when managing politically sensitive disputes over assets they will continue to own and manage in host countries long after the particular dispute has passed. Although governments prefer secrecy to help facilitate politically difficult bargaining, secrecy diminishes one of the central purposes of arbitration: to allow governments to signal publicly their general commitment to investor-friendly policies. Understanding the incentives for keeping the details of dispute resolution secret may help future scholars explain more accurately the observed patterns of wins and losses from investor-state arbitration as well as patterns of investment.
Why do some decision makers prefer big multilateral agreements while others prefer cooperation in small clubs? Does enforcement encourage or deter institutional cooperation? We use experiments drawn from behavioral economics and cognitive psychology—along with a substantive survey focused on international trade—to illustrate how two behavioral traits (patience and strategic reasoning) of individuals who play key roles in negotiating and ratifying an international treaty shape their preferences for how treaties are designed and whether they are ratified. Patient subjects were more likely to prefer treaties with larger numbers of countries (and larger long-term benefits), as were subjects with the skill to anticipate how others will respond over multiple iterations of strategic games. The presence of an enforcement mechanism increased subjects' willingness to ratify treaties; however, strategic reasoning had double the effect of adding enforcement to a trade agreement: more strategic subjects were particularly likely to favor ratifying the agreement. We report these results for a sample of 509 university students and also show how similar patterns are revealed in a unique sample of ninety-two actual US policy elites. Under some conditions certain types of university student convenience samples can be useful for revealing elite-dominated policy preferences—different types of people in the same situation may prefer to approach decision-making tasks and reason through trade-offs in materially different ways.
Why do countries join international human rights institutions, when membership often yields few material gains and constrains state sovereignty? This article argues that entering a human rights institution can yield substantial benefits for democratizing states. Emerging democracies can use the ‘sovereignty costs’ associated with membership to lock in liberal policies and signal their intent to consolidate democracy. It also argues, however, that the magnitude of these costs varies across different human rights institutions, which include both treaties and international organizations. Consistent with this argument, the study finds that democratizing states tend to join human rights institutions that impose greater constraints on state sovereignty.
Experimental evidence in cognitive psychology and behavioral economics is transforming the way political science scholars think about how humans make decisions in areas of high complexity, uncertainty, and risk. Nearly all those studies utilize convenience samples of university students, but in the real world political elites actually make most pivotal political decisions such as threatening war or changing the course of economic policy. Highly experienced elites are more likely to exhibit the attributes of rational decision-making; and over the last fifteen years a wealth of studies suggest that such elites are likely to be more skilled in strategic bargaining than samples with less germane experience. However, elites are also more likely to suffer overconfidence, which degrades decision-making skills. We illustrate implications for political science with a case study of crisis bargaining between the US and North Korea. Variations in the experience of US elite decision-makers between 2002 and 2006 plausibly explain the large shift in US crisis signaling better than other rival hypotheses such as “Iraq fatigue.” Beyond crisis bargaining other major political science theories might benefit from attention to the attributes of individual decision-makers.
When are governments most likely to use election violence, and what factors can mitigate government incentives to resort to violence? How do the dynamics of election violence differ in the pre- and post-election periods? The central argument of this article is that an incumbent's fear of losing power as the result of an election, as well as institutionalized constraints on the incumbent's decision-making powers, are pivotal in her decision to use election violence. While it may seem obvious to suggest that incumbents use election violence in an effort to fend off threats to their power, it is not obvious how to gauge these threats. Thus, a central objective of this article is to identify sources of information about the incumbent's popularity that can help predict the likelihood of election violence. The observable implications of this argument are tested using newly available cross-national evidence on elections, government use of pre- and post-election violence, and post-election protests from 1981 to 2004.
The discipline of political science has developed an active research program on the development, operation, spread, and impact of international legal norms, agreements, and institutions. Meanwhile, a growing number of public international lawyers have developed an interest in political science research and methods. For more than two decades, scholars have been calling for international lawyers and political scientists to collaborate, and have suggested possible frameworks for doing so. Some prominent collaborations are under way—sharing research methods and insights.
Several prominent human rights treaties seek to minimize violations during emergencies by authorizing states to “derogate”—that is, to suspend certain civil and political liberties—in response to crises. The drafters of these treaties envisioned that international restrictions on derogations, together with international notification and monitoring mechanisms, would limit rights suspensions during emergencies. This article analyzes the behavior of derogating countries using new global data sets of derogations and states of emergency from 1976 to 2007. We argue that derogations are a rational response to domestic political uncertainty. They enable governments facing serious threats to buy time and legal breathing space from voters, courts, and interest groups to confront crises while signaling to these audiences that rights deviations are temporary and lawful. Our findings have implications for studies of treaty design and flexibility mechanisms, and compliance with international human rights agreements.
Two big assumptions fuel current mobilization against and policy discussions about the U.S. war on terror and its implications for human rights and international cooperation. First, terrorism creates strong pressures on governments—especially democracies—to restrict human rights. Second, these restrictions are not only immoral and illegal, but also counterproductive to curbing terrorism. If these two assumptions are correct, then democracies face a vicious circle: terrorist attacks provoke a reaction that makes it harder to defeat terrorist organizations.
International relations research has regarded networks as a particular mode of organization, distinguished from markets or state hierarchies. In contrast, network analysis permits the investigation and measurement of network structures—emergent properties of persistent patterns of relations among agents that can define, enable, and constrain those agents. Network analysis offers both a toolkit for identifying and measuring the structural properties of networks and a set of theories, typically drawn from contexts outside international relations, that relate structures to outcomes. Network analysis challenges conventional views of power in international relations by defining network power in three different ways: access, brokerage, and exit options. Two issues are particularly important to international relations: the ability of actors to increase their power by enhancing and exploiting their network positions, and the fungibility of network power. The value of network analysis in international relations has been demonstrated in precise description of international networks, investigation of network effects on key international outcomes, testing of existing network theory in the context of international relations, and development of new sources of data. Partial or faulty incorporation of network analysis, however, risks trivial conclusions, unproven assertions, and measures without meaning. A three-part agenda is proposed for future application of network analysis to international relations: import the toolkit to deepen research on international networks; test existing network theories in the domain of international relations; and test international relations theories using the tools of network analysis.
Over the past two decades, human rights language has spread like wildfire across international policy arenas. The activists who sparked this fire are engaged in two different campaigns. The first is comparatively modest, involving the persuasion of tens of thousands of global elites such as journalists, UN officials, donors, and national political leaders. The second is broader and more complex: to have a real impact on the behavior of tens of millions of state agents worldwide. While most international relations scholars agree that the first campaign has made real gains, opinions are split on the success—past, present, and future—of the second. In part, these divisions fall along methodological lines. With some exceptions, qualitative scholars working in the empirical international relations tradition express more optimism than their quantitative counterparts, whose contributions to the subfield are relatively new. This article reviews several new books on human rights and shows how their insights engage with these ongoing methodological debates. The authors argue that both qualitative and quantitative approaches offer important strengths and that neither has a monopoly on truth. Still, the human rights discourse may be thriving, at least in part, for reasons unrelated to impact. The authors conclude with suggestions for a more systematic and multimethod research, along with a plea for scholarly attention to the potential downsides of international human rights promotion.
This article argues that international regime complexity has shaped Europe's politics of human rights trade conditionality by creating opportunities for various types of “forum shopping,” and, consequently, that some of the most significant politics of human rights enforcement have occurred in an entirely separate issue area—trade—which are being worked out partly during lawmaking and partly during implementation. The presence of nested and overlapping institutions creates incentives for rival political actors—whether states, institutions, or policymakers—to (1) forum shop for more power, (2) advantage themselves in the context of a parallel or overlapping regime, and (3) invoke institutions á la carte to govern a specific issue but not others. Each tactic creates competition between institutions and actors for authority over the rules, setting hurdles for IO performance. Even so, (4) regime complexity can make enforcement of rules that are impossible to implement in one area possible in another area.