The Continent of International Law

Event Date: 

Friday, January 27, 2017 - 12:00pm

Event Location: 

  • The Lane Room (Ellison 3824)

Every year, states negotiate, conclude, sign, and give effect to hundreds of new international agreements. I argue that the detailed design provisions of such agreements matter for phenomena that scholars, policymakers, and the public care about:  When and how international cooperation occurs and is maintained. Theoretically, I develop hypotheses regarding how cooperation problems like incentives to cheat can be confronted and moderated through law’s design provisions. Empirically, I exploit a random sample of international agreements in economics, environment, human rights and security.  To bring the theory and data to life, I’ll present analyses of withdrawal provisions.  Such provisions are dismissed by some as final clauses written without much thought, yet they are strikingly meaningful and systematic in terms of both the length of their notice period as well as the time stipulated before they can be invoked. The analyses also highlight the complementarity of broad flexibility provisions with sub-provisions featuring hands-tying. Often these mechanisms are incorporated to help states with domestic commitment problems resolve their credibility problems.  Given the recent turn of events with respect to US leadership, the hands-tying mechanisms embodied in the withdrawal provisions of multilateral environmental agreements, like the Paris Agreement, could preserve environmental cooperation throughout this particular leader’s time in office – that is, the rest of the world might be protected (if the law is followed) from the US’s commitment problem.

Barbara Koremenos is a Professor of Political Science at the University of Michigan and has published in both political science and law journals, including American Political Science Review, International Organization, Journal of Conflict Resolution, and The Journal of Legal Studies.  Koremenos received a National Science Foundation CAREER Award for her research -- the first such winner to study international relations.  She focuses on the tens of thousands of international agreements that states negotiate, conclude, sign, and implement.

Presented by the Department of Political Science International Relations Speaker Series.

PS 595 Credit.

Lunch will be provided.