Why the United States Supports International Enforcement for Some Treaties but not for Others

Published in Politics and Governance, Vol.5, No 2 (2017)



Under what conditions should we expect the United States to support international enforcement of treaties? In this article, the authors hypothesize that U.S. support is most likely for treaties where international enforcement will cause considerable (desired) behavioral change by other countries but little (undesired) behavioral change by the United States. Similarly, U.S. support is least likely for treaties where international enforcement will generate the converse effects. In developing this hypothesis, the authors derive specific conditions under which we should expect U.S. benefits of international enforcement to outweigh U.S. costs (or vice versa). They also provide empirical examples. Finally, they consider three alternative explanations of U.S. views on international enforcement—concern for U.S. sovereignty, desire to prevent infringements on U.S. constitutional protection of individual rights, and the usefulness of international enforcement as a domestic commitment device.

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Published June 29, 2017 1:13 PM - Last modified June 29, 2017 1:13 PM