How International Law Works: A Rational Choice Theory

By Andrew T. Guzman | Go to book overview

4
INTERNATIONAL AGREEMENTS

When states come together to make an agreement, they have nearly total control over the content and form of the deal. The result is that agreements range over almost every imaginable topic and virtually every conceivable form of strategic interaction and they vary widely in their design. Some are bilateral while others are multilateral; some take the form of treaties that are said to be “binding” under international law while others are much less formal; some provide for mandatory dispute resolution while others do not even mention the subject; some include comprehensive monitoring schemes while others provide no oversight whatsoever; some demand extensive changes to existing practices while others do little more than reflect what states are already doing; some are highly abstract and focused on general principles while others establish detailed commitments.

This chapter applies the rational choice assumptions that form the foundation of this book to international agreements, including both treaties and agreements that are not formal treaties. The great diversity among agreements and their terms makes it difficult (and perhaps impossible) to develop a rich model that covers all aspects of these agreements. Rather than attempting to do so, the chapter identifies a number of key features of international agreements and explores how one might understand them in light of the rational choice theory developed throughout the book.

To cabin the inquiry somewhat, the chapter focuses on how different problems of cooperation are addressed through treaties. Thus, for example, this chapter discusses how the problem of enforcement is handled in agreements. In doing so, it considers not only if there is a dispute resolution provision—the most obvious enforcement tool—but

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How International Law Works: A Rational Choice Theory
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • 1 - Introduction 3
  • 2 - A General Theory of International Law 25
  • 3 - Reputation 71
  • 4 - International Agreements 119
  • 5 - Customary International Law 183
  • 6 - Understanding International Law 211
  • Notes 219
  • Bibliography 237
  • Index 248
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