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Choosing Cooperation: The Incidence and Design of International Agreements.

By Papia Debroy


When do states successfully form international agreements, and how are they designed? This dissertation explains the incidence of international agreements, and their flexibility and monitoring designs. Existing work focuses on how states strategically solve cooperation problems. Yet, these explanations do not account for the timing of an agreement. This is important for the effects it has on the depth and longevity of cooperation between two states. I argue that when an executive seeks out an agreement is dependent on his executive preferences, the interest group preferences in his winning coalition and the ability of partnering states to credibly signal their commitment due to their regime type. I detail why the credibility of commitment differs across democratic, single-party, personalist and military regimes. I then hypothesize that when executive partisanship aligns, when interest groups have a strong lobbying presence in both states in a dyad and when both states are able to signal credibility in their commitment, agreements are more likely to form. I also hypothesize that these variables affect how the agreement will be designed: executive partisanship alignment leads to lower levels of flexibility and lower levels of monitoring while greater credibility of commitment across dyads leads to more flexibility and less monitoring across dyads. I test my hypotheses on two populations of agreements: bilateral environmental agreements and preferential trade agreements. I find some support for my argument that executive partisanship alignment and interest groups affect the incidence of cooperation. I find strong support that the credibility of commitment affects the incidence and design of cooperation; specifically, agreements are more likely to be formed with democracies and single-party regimes. In addition, agreements are more likely to include monitoring and flexibility provisions with personalist and military regimes than democratic and single-party regimes

Topics: International Institutional Design
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