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Is There a “Depth versus Participation” Dilemma in International Cooperation?

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Much of the International Relations literature assumes that there is a “depth versus participation” dilemma in international politics: shallower international agreements attract more countries and greater depth is associated with less participation. We argue that this conjecture is too simple and probably misleading because the depth of any given cooperative effort is in fact multidimensional. This multidimensionality manifests itself in the design characteristics of international agreements: in particular, the specificity of obligations, monitoring and enforcement mechanisms, dispute settlement mechanisms, positive incentives (assistance), and organizational structures (secretariats). We theorize that the first three of these design characteristics have negative and the latter three have positive effects on participation in international cooperative efforts. Our empirical testing of these claims relies on a dataset that covers more than 200 global environmental treaties. We find a participation-limiting effect for the specificity of obligations, but not for monitoring and enforcement. In contrast, we observe that assistance provisions in treaties have a significant and substantial positive effect on participation. Similarly, dispute settlement mechanisms tend to promote treaty participation. The main implication of our study is that countries do not appear to stay away from agreements with monitoring and enforcement provisions, but that the inclusion of positive incentives and dispute settlement mechanisms can promote international cooperation. In other words, our findings suggest that policymakers do not necessarily need to water down global treaties in order to obtain more participation.
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1 23
The Review of International
Organizations
ISSN 1559-7431
Rev Int Organ
DOI 10.1007/s11558-013-9165-1
Is there a “Depth versus Participation”
dilemma in international cooperation?
Thomas Bernauer, Anna Kalbhenn,
Vally Koubi & Gabriele Spilker
1 23
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Is there a Depth versus Participationdilemma
in international cooperation?
Thomas Bernauer &Anna Kalbhenn &Vally Koubi &
Gabriele Spilker
#Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013
Abstract Much of the International Relations literature assumes that there is a depth
versus participationdilemma in international politics: shallower international agree-
ments attract more countries and greater depth is associated with less participation.
We argue that this conjecture is too simple and probably misleading because the depth
of any given cooperative effort is in fact multidimensional. This multidimensionality
manifests itself in the design characteristics of international agreements: in particular,
the specificity of obligations, monitoring and enforcement mechanisms, dispute
settlement mechanisms, positive incentives (assistance), and organizational structures
(secretariats). We theorize that the first three of these design characteristics have
negative and the latter three have positive effects on participation in international
cooperative efforts. Our empirical testing of these claims relies on a dataset that
covers more than 200 global environmental treaties. We find a participation-limiting
effect for the specificity of obligations, but not for monitoring and enforcement. In
Rev Int Organ
DOI 10.1007/s11558-013-9165-1
A version of this manuscript was presented at the 3rd Annual Conference on the Political Economy of
International Organizations, January 2830, 2010, Washington DC, at the ISA Annual Convention,
February 1720, 2010, New Orleans, and at the 2009 Amsterdam Conference on the Human Dimension
of Global Environmental Change, December 24, 2009, Volendam. Atushi Ishi, Lawrence Broz, Dan
Maliniak and Kenneth Oye gave valuable comments on an earlier draft. Marianne Furrer and Juliane
Krüger provided excellent research assistance. Finally, we thank two anonymous reviewers and the
journals editor, Axel Dreher, for extremely helpful advice that improved this research.
The views expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the ECB.
Electronic supplementary material The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s11558-013-9165-1)
contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
T. Bernauer (*):V. Koubi :G. Spilker
ETH Zurich, Center for Comparative and International Studies (CIS) and Institute for Environmental
Decisions (IED), Zurich, Switzerland
e-mail: thbe0520@ethz.ch
A. Kalbhenn
European Central Bank (ECB), Frankfurt, Germany
V. Koubi
Department of Economics and Oeschger Institute for Climate Change Research, University of Bern,
Bern, Switzerland
Author's personal copy
contrast, we observe that assistance provisions in treaties have a significant and
substantial positive effect on participation. Similarly, dispute settlement mechanisms
tend to promote treaty participation. The main implication of our study is that
countries do not appear to stay away from agreements with monitoring and enforce-
ment provisions, but that the inclusion of positive incentives and dispute settlement
mechanisms can promote international cooperation. In other words, our findings
suggest that policymakers do not necessarily need to water down global treaties in
order to obtain more participation.
Keywords Treaty design characteristics .International environmental agreements
JEL Codes F53 .F55 .Q58
1 Introduction
One of the most fundamental questions in International Relations research and also
policymaking is why some international problem solving efforts succeed whereas
others fail. The conventional wisdom explaining variation in success of cooperative
efforts is quite sober in that it assumes lowest common denominator solutions to most
international problems. By implication, harder problems for instance those charac-
terized by dilemma games, great scientific and technical complexity, and high
implementation costs are associated with weaker or less ambitious cooperation.
Conversely, we should expect more agreements and more participation of countries in
such agreements dealing with the easy cases(Oye 1986; Stein 1990; Downs et al.
1996; Sandler 2008).
One category of factors that, arguably, plays an important role in interna-
tional cooperation has received increasing attention in recent years, namely
institutional design features (Koremenos et al. 2001;Mitchell1994). Indeed,
policymakers invest enormous amounts of time and effort in developing ever
more complex international agreements in an attempt to solve the problem of
concern.
Our work is motivated by an important gap in the existing literature on
international institutions. The rational design of international institutions literature
(Abbott and Snidal 2000; Koremenos et al. 2001; Mitchell and Keilbach 2001)
concentrates almost exclusively on explaining design characteristics as a function
of issue area or policy-problem characteristics (that is, institutional design is the
dependent variable in such studies). Only a few studies, however, examine the
implications of particular design choices for the formation and success of inter-
national institutions, and most studies of this kind focus on one particular aspect
of institutional design and one specific cooperative effort (Mitchell 1994; von
Stein 2008).
Our work contributes to this literature both by developing a theoretical argument
concerning the implications of a larger set of institutional design characteristics, and
by testing this theory on a large set of international cooperative efforts. This broader
scope of our theory and empirical analysis allows us to re-assess the conventional,
one-dimensional view of international cooperation in terms of a depth versus
T. Bernauer et al.
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participation dilemma and to argue in favor of an approach that uses a multidimen-
sional concept of depth.
1
Hence the starting point for our theorizing and empirical analysis is the widely
held view that there is a depth versus participation dilemma in international cooper-
ation. The following example from a seminal study by Downs et al. (1996: 396)
illustrates this alleged dilemma:
The Mediterranean Plan achieved consensus by eliminating any meaningful
restrictions on dumping and providing no enforcement mechanism for those
minimal targets and restrictions that were agreed to. As a result, it has been an
embarrassing failure. Pollution has increased, dolphin hunting continues, and
despite a European Union ban on drift nets longer than 2.5 km, the rules are
widely flouted. The result has been a collapsing ecosystem in the Mediterranean.
We submit that a one-dimensional depth versus participation perspective that is,
the view that shalloweragreements attract more countries and greater depth is
associated with less participation is too simple and potentially misleading. The
rational design of institutions literature (Abbott, Keohane and Moravcsik 2000;
Abbott and Snidal 2000; Marcoux 2009) has in fact shown that governments are
very sophisticated in developing complex institutional designs that stack treaties with
a great variety of features, for instance flexibility mechanisms and withdrawal
clauses, in an attempt to solve the problem of concern. Consequently, we should
expect that how treaties are designed matters for participation, and that different
design features can have different effects on participation, independently of the
factors that determine bargaining outcomes, i.e., the final design features of a treaty.
2
In this paper we argue that different types of institutional design characteristics, all
of which reflect the depth (or ambition level) of cooperation, may affect participation.
We posit that treaties with more specific obligations as well as those with monitoring
and enforcement mechanisms are likely to attract fewer countries. Conversely, we
submit that treaties with assistance and dispute settlement mechanisms as well as
treaty-specific secretariats are likely to attract more countries.
In contrast to much of the existing literature, which focuses primarily on country
characteristics to explain participation in international treaties, our research focuses
purely on treaty characteristics as explanatory factors. Although we consent to the view
that several country characteristics such as power or the political system also matter for
participation, we concentrate our analysis on the interplay of various treaty design
characteristics and their influence on participation. Our empirical analysis, however,
shows that the results are not sensitive to excluding these country characteristics.
We test our theoretical argument on a new dataset that covers more than 200 global
environmental treaties. With this empirical focus we hold the pool of potential
1
Note that we are not the first ones to question the depth versus participationperspective. Gilligan (2004)
develops a formal model that shows that this alleged broader-deepertrade-off occurs only when all
members of an international agreement set their policy at the same level. If states are allowed to set their
policies at different levels, however, this broader-deepertrade-off disappears.
2
International treaty-making typically involves two key steps: signature, which formally concludes the
bargaining phase and expresses the consent of the negotiating government to the treaty text; and ratifica-
tion, which expresses legislative consent and thus makes the treaty legally binding for the respective
country at the domestic level.
Is there a Depth versus Participationdilemma
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member countries constant and limit unit heterogeneity at least to some extent while
still allowing for strong variation in institutional design features.
We find that the specificity of obligations has a negative and statistically signifi-
cant effect on participation rates (measured by treaty ratifications) and the existence
of monitoring and enforcement mechanisms has no significant effect. In contrast, we
find more support for positivecompliance mechanisms: assistance provisions in
treaties have a significant and substantially positive effect on participation, and
dispute settlement mechanisms also increase the number of ratifiers.
We interpret these findings as moderately good news for international cooperation. It
may well be that some of the hardest to solve problems never make it onto the global
bargaining agenda, or that negotiations on such problems fail to produce a treaty. But we
still find that, once treaties have been negotiated and are open to all members of the
international community, countries do not appear to stay away from those that mandate
deeper cooperation. We also observe that the inclusion of positive incentives and dispute
settlement mechanisms promotes international cooperation. Moreover, our evidence sup-
ports the assumption that these effects are independent of factors that shape bargaining
outcomes. Hence there is considerable room for hope that policymakers can design
international agreements in ways that ascertain large participation without having to
sacrifice too much in terms of depth. In other words, our findings suggest that policymakers
do not necessarily have to water down global treaties in order to obtain more participation.
2 Theoretical argument
Political science and international law scholars agree that states enter into legally binding
agreements (treaties) in order to solve collective action problems and advance mutual
interests (Keohane 1984;Lipson1991;Martin1993; Abbott and Snidal 1998,2000).
These scholars also agree that international treaties vary to a great extent in terms of the
precision and stringency of obligations as well as compliance mechanisms set forth
therein (Guzman 2005; Raustiala 2005; Abbott and Snidal 2000; Chinkin 1989). Some
treaties do not require member states to implement any changes in their policies,
whereas others require major changes. For example, the UN Framework Convention
on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has imposed only minor obligations on member states,
with primary obligations concerning reporting and review, whereas the Kyoto Protocol
contains clearly specified quantitative emission reduction targets that a specific group of
countries must reach by a specific year.
The existing literature offers some insights into how such institutional design
features may affect participation in international agreements. The prevailing view is
that while shallowercommitments are likely to attract more states but result in less
problem solving, deepercommitments are likely to limit or reduce participation,
particularly by those countries whose behavior is least consistent with treaty objec-
tives (Barrett 2003; Downs et al. 2000; Downs et al. 1996).
We argue that a one-dimensional view of the depth versus participation
problem is too simple and probably misleading, and that the depth of any
given international cooperative effort is in fact multidimensional. This multidimension-
ality manifests itself in the design characteristics of international agreements. We submit
that the specificity of obligations, monitoring and enforcement mechanisms, dispute
T. Bernauer et al.
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settlement mechanisms, assistance, and organizational structures (secretariats) are insti-
tutional design features that are particularly important in terms of their implications for
participation. We theorizethat the first three of these design characteristics have negative
and the latter three have positive effects on participation in international cooperative
efforts.
2.1 Participation reducing institutional design characteristics
We first turn to the specificity of obligations. International agreements may be very
important for avoiding Pareto deficient outcomes, especially in situations where failure
to cooperate would leave states exposed to important risks (for example, climate change)
or would prevent them from realizing important benefits (for example, gains from free
trade). Nevertheless, international agreements with more specific obligations
3
are likely
to involve higher implementation costs as well as costs related to a loss of flexibility and
thus also sovereignty. Implementation costs refer to whether and how far countries will
have to change existing domestic policies, practices and laws in order to comply with the
agreement.
4
Loss of flexibility means that states face a loss in their ability to respond to
unanticipated shocks as well as to peculiar domestic circumstances without compromis-
ing the respective international agreement (Abbott and Snidal 2000;Koremenos2005;
von Stein 2008). Moreover, international agreements that require clearly visible, sub-
stantial changes in existing policies are likely to generate credibility and reputation costs
if a country fails to fulfill or reneges on its obligations in the future (Martin 2000;
Simmons 2000). More precise obligations also lead to more and better information with
respect to the distributional effects of the respective international agreement. Hence they
can generate distributional conflict among the countries involved in a cooperative effort
and make participation in international agreements difficult (Goldstein and Martin
2000).
This suggests that if an international agreement creates no specific obligations, all
participants in this agreement will easily be able to comply and participation should
thus be high. Conversely, if obligations are specific and clearly expressed in the
agreement then the distance between any countrys current (or anticipated) policies
and/or practices and legal commitments expressed in the agreement begins to matter.
5
For these reasons we expect that, ceteris paribus, international agreements creating
specific obligations are likely to attract fewer countries.
3
Specific obligations, for instance in the form of clear-cut quantitative targets expressed in international
treaties, are an important manifestation of this type of institutional design features.
4
Hathaway (2003:1834) posits that When deciding whether to ratify a treaty, a country will take into
account the expected compliance costs that is how much the country will change its behavior as a result of
the ratification.Similarly, Helfer (2002:18521853) states that Altering domestic policies to conform to
international human rights standard is not costless. Such alternations impose external constraints on a
governments ability to respond to legitimate social problems by regulating the behavior of individuals
within its borders or by allocating resources to other areas of social policy both traditional aspects of state
sovereignty.See also Pae (2006) for an economic analysis of sovereignty costs associated with adhering to
international human rights treaties.
5
Several studies find empirical evidence that countries are less likely to ratify treaties in issue-areas such as
economic, human rights, environmental, and security policy if they have to change their behavior as a
consequence (Hathaway 2007; Goodliffe and Hawking 2006; Downs et al. 2000). In addition, several
authors show that treaties that include flexibility provisions and escape clausesare ratified by more
countries (von Stein 2008; Koremenos 2001,2005; and Rosendorff and Milner 2001).
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In line with the literature on legalization we consider not only the specificity or
precision of obligations, but also monitoring and enforcement. Because these mech-
anisms are primarily intended to deter or punish non-compliance we label them as
negativecompliance mechanisms. Monitoring and enforcement mechanisms can
help prevent opportunistic behavior by increasing the credibility of commitments and
reputation costs associated with reneging on commitments. However, these same
mechanisms are often perceived by states as a threat to their autonomy and sover-
eignty. Abbott and Snidal (2000), for example, note that delegation of monitoring
authority makes it more difficult for states to interpret the respective agreement in a
self-serving or biased manner. Similarly, Goldstein and Martin (2000) posit that
international agreements should incorporate only some flexibility in their enforce-
ment procedures since too little enforcement may encourage opportunism and too
much may deter cooperative deals altogether.
6
In view of these arguments, we claim that countries regard both monitoring and
enforcement mechanisms as limitations on their autonomy and sovereignty and thus as
costly. All other things being equal, countries should, therefore, be more reluctant to
participate in international agreements that provide for monitoring and/or enforcement
mechanisms.
2.2 Participation increasing institutional design characteristics
Whereas the specificity of obligations, monitoring and enforcement are likely to have a
limiting effect on participation, states often equip international institutions with addi-
tional incentives. Three of these, which we expect to have a participation-promoting
effect, are dispute settlement mechanisms, assistance, and organizational structures.
States incorporate dispute settlement procedures (DSP) in some (but by no means
all) agreements. Such procedures may involve a loss of policy discretion and control
over potential future disputes, which is a typical delegation problem and may
negatively affect participation (Morris 2001). We submit, however, that governments
may still be willing to participate in treaties that incorporate dispute settlement
procedures because such mechanisms allow parties to resolve conflicts in accordance
with stipulated rules and procedures.
Dispute settlement procedures can, in addition, benefit states that seek to cooperate
with each other by providing new and unbiased information on relevant policies and
practices of the participating countries (Smith 2000; Ginsburg and McAdams 2004).
7
By discerning between real violations of the agreement and mistaken perceptions,
DSP can identify violations of an agreement and bring them to the attention of all
participants, thus exposing the offending country to a loss of reputation and helping
to prevent cheating in the first place (Maggi 1999).
8
Moreover, since governments
cannot foresee all possible contingencies and are thus unable to define ex ante
6
Downs et al. (1996), Hathaway (2005), and Cole (2005,2009) also argue that states avoid agreements that
have strong enforcement mechanisms.
7
See Finlayson and Zacher (1981), Kovenock and Thursby (1992), Maggi (1999), and Rosendorff (2005)
for analyses of the informational role of the WTO-Dispute Settlement Procedure. Keohane (1984), Oye
(1986), and Martin (1993) emphasize the informational role of international institutions in general.
8
Loss of reputation can also have serious repercussion for the offending country, notably by making it
more difficult to enter into agreements with other countries in the future (Guzman 2002).
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compliance, DSP can help clarify the meaning of ambiguous terms in the respective
international agreement (Chayes and Chayes 1993) and contribute to developing new
rules and applying existing rules to new or unanticipated circumstances (Posner and
Yoo 2005). In most general terms, dispute settlement procedures can thus help
increase transparency and reduce transaction costs, thereby facilitating and support-
ing cooperation.
Although we argue that states are less willing to participate in international agree-
ments they find costly to implement, incentive structures associated with an international
agreement may change once other institutional design features such as side payments,
technological assistance or other treaty membership benefits are added. We posit that
granting financial, technical or other types of assistance is likely to help countries and in
particular less developed ones to acquire capacities that are deemed essential to comply
with obligations contracted through the respective agreement. Assistance provisions can
thus affect the cost/benefit calculations of states with respect to committing themselves
to an international agreement. For instance, the negative effect of specific obligations
could be (at least partially) offset if an agreement additionally offered assistance that
enhanced compliance by reducing their implementation costs. Barrett (2003:309)
emphasizes that excluding non-parties from treaty-based research and development
enhances the incentives for states to ratify these treaties in order to acquire such
knowledge. Spilker (2012) argues that developing countries with more involvement in
international organizations are better able to take care of their natural environment
because of the technological and financial assistance they receive through this involve-
ment. Assistance is, therefore, likely to promote participation. The Montreal Protocol for
protecting the stratospheric ozone layer, for example, has established a multilateral fund
to which industrialized countries contribute and from which developing countries and
transition economies can receive assistance for phasing out ozone layer depleting
chemicals. Similarly, the UN Convention on Biological Diversity offers support through
the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) to facilitate implementation of treaty commit-
ments in countries that encounter difficulties.
Finally, international agreements quite often create treaty-specific secretariats or
delegate tasks to existing international bodies (Abbott and Snidal 1998). Sandford
(1994), for instance, notes that the most important tasks of such secretariats are:
to help parties meet their commitments, and to prevent and manage implemen-
tation conflicts; to assist countries, especially developing nations, with capacity
building; and to provide policy guidance. Secretariats play a central role in
coordinating and managing information flows as well as in assisting members
with interpreting complex data and translating this information into policy advice.
Governments of smaller countries, especially if they are economically weak, often
lack the know-how and financial resources to develop the necessary expertise.
Such countries in particular can benefit very much from services provided by
international secretariats. Secretariats are, in many cases, also tasked to mobilize
financial resources and technical expertise to support countries in implementing
treaty commitments. Finally, secretariats may act as impartial intermediaries in an
informal capacity and can serve as bridge builders in persuading states with
differing or opposing points of view to sit at the same table and discuss
policy-problems. For all these reasons we expect more participation in those
international agreements that are equipped with secretariats.
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3 Empirical design
We test the above arguments on a dataset that includes information on ratifications as
well as treaty characteristics of more than 200 global environmental agreements. We
have chosen global environmental agreements for two reasons. First, by restricting
the analysis to one policy area we are able to limit unit-heterogeneity at least to some
extent and are thus able to efficiently take care of remaining heterogeneity by means
of a limited set of control variables. At the same time, there is sufficient variation on
all key variables in the analysis. Second, our analysis requires a sample of treaties that
can, in principle, attract participants (ratifying countries) from exactly the same
population of countries in any given year. Global environmental treaties, which are
open for ratification to all countries in the international system, meet this criterion and
at the same time provide for a large sample (in our case 211 treaties).
Our dependent variable captures how many ratifications a given agreement has
attracted by the end of our time period of analysis. Specifically, it is defined as the
cumulated number of ratifications per global environmental agreement by the year
2006. This definition implies that the analysis is cross-sectional. The cross-sectional
design is motivated by the fact that all of our key explanatory variables (treaty design
characteristics) vary across treaties, but not across time or across countries.
The information on ratifications was retrieved from CIESIN (2006) and Mitchell
(20022008). Our sample includes global environmental treaties and protocols to those
treaties, but excludes amendments to treaties or protocols. For example, we include both
the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol. Protocols are
usually not fully independent of treaties. However, there are sufficient institutional/design
differences between the large majority of treaties and related protocols to warrant
inclusion of both types in our sample. For example, the Vienna framework convention
for protecting the stratospheric ozone layer does not include specific reduction targets for
ozone depleting substances, and it does not provide for assistance; but the associated
Montreal Protocol and its amendments include such measures. In contrast, amendments to
treaties are often minor adjustments that in most cases do not introduce design modifica-
tions that would change the values on our institutional design variables. To examine
whether our results are robust to potential problems associated with non-independent
observations we run all statistical models with two samples, one that includes treaties and
protocols (n=211), and one that includes only treaties (n=143). As shown in the
descriptive statistics (see the papers online Appendix on this journals webpage), the
number of ratifications per treaty/protocol varies from 1 to 180.
Existing data on treaty characteristics, including those in the dataset of Mitchell
(20022008), do not correspond closely enough to our theoretical arguments and
concepts. We therefore manually coded the variables of interest by means of a content
analysis of treaty texts. The coding instructions are available in the online Appendix.
Our independent variables are essentially coded as binary variables, indicating the
presence or absence of a given treaty design characteristic. Conceptually, certain treaty
design variables may exhibit more than binary variation. For instance, the precision of
obligations could be conceptualized with a continuous scale. We thus started our data
coding effort by allowing for more fine-grained categorizations for some of the explan-
atory variables. The coding process revealed, however, that the more fine-grained cate-
gorizations are problematic. Most treaties in our sample could not be classified according
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to the more fine-grained scales: we ended up with very few or no cases in many categories
of non-binary scales, and the codings became much less reliable. In more general terms,
this limitation is also due to the fact that, even though we are dealing with one policy area
(environment), the more than 200 treaties in our sample are still quite heterogeneous.
Hence there is no empirical benefit from using more fine-grained scales for the treaty
design characteristics of interest in this paper because it would not make much sense to
trade in data quality for more sophisticated scales.
Turning to each of the treaty characteristics, the explanatory variable obligation
captures whether a treaty contains ambiguous or no specifications pertaining to
standards or goals to be achieved, or whether it quantifies standards or goals, for
example in the form of specific emission targets. It is coded 1 if the treaty includes
specific quantitative targets and 0 otherwise. For example, the Kyoto Protocol is
coded as a treaty that contains obligations since it states clear emission reduction
targets for those countries listed in its Annex I.
Monitoring measures whether or not the treaty includes monitoring provisions.
The variable enforcement indicates whether or not the treaty includes enforcement
provisions. Again the Kyoto Protocol serves as an example since it specifies an
institutional body to monitor and enforce the goals of the treaty with the establish-
ment of the Subsidiary Body for Implementation.
The explanatory variable dispute settlement measures whether an agreement
includes dispute settlement provisions. It is coded 1 if the respective agreement
includes such provisions and 0 otherwise. For example, the Convention on the
Prevention of Marine Pollution from Land-Based Sources elaborates in great detail
the establishment of a tribunal to resolve disputes occurring among its member
countries and thus provides for an own dispute settlement mechanism. The UNFCCC
also contains clear guidance on how to proceed in the event of a dispute between
member countries, which is, however, different to the aforementioned mechanism. If
the parties fail to solve their dispute through negotiation, they are urged to submit the
dispute to the International Court of Justice.
We measure secretariat with two dummy variables, one indicating whether a treaty
establishes its own, treaty-specific secretariat, and the other indicating whether the treaty
associates itself with an existing secretariat (for example, by delegating this task to the
United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP)). For both dummy variables the
baseline category (0) is a treaty without any secretariat. The United Nations Convention
to Combat Desertification, for example,established its own secretariat when it came into
being in 1994. The main task of the secretariat is to serve the Conference of the Parties
and its subsidiary bodies while it also oversees and supports national reporting on
progress made to achieve the goals set by the convention. In contrast, the UNECE
Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and
Access to Justice in Environmental Matters (the Aarhus Convention), which was
adopted in 1998, relies on the secretariat of the United Nations Economic Commission
for Europe (UNECE), which is one of the United Nationsregional commissions and
aims at promoting pan-European economic integration.
Assistance captures whether member countries are to be granted technical and/or
financial assistance to meet the treatys goals. It is coded 1 if such assistance
provisions are included in the treaty and 0 otherwise. Since international treaties
often mandate preferential assistance for developing countries, we distinguish
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between assistance that is aimed at all treaty member states and assistance that is
aimed only at developing countries. As discussed above, a prime example of a treaty
that includes assistance is the Montreal Protocol.
We control for general environmental issue characteristics that may affect both treaty
design characteristics and participation rates (ratification). Global public good indicates
whether an agreement deals with a global public good or a national or sub-national
public good. It is coded 1 if the treaty deals with internationally or globally shared
natural resources or ecosystems, and 0 if there is explicit reference to national public
goods such as the conservation of domestic wildlife or natural habitats. An additional
variable deals with those agreements for which the distinction between international/
global and domestic public goods is not sufficiently clear (for example in the case of the
European Convention for the Protection of Animals during International Transport).
This variable, global/domestic public good, is coded 1 if the distinction is difficult, and 0
for clearly domestic public goods. In line with the literature on global public goods
(Barrett 2003), we expect that the free-rider problem will make countries more reluctant
to join agreements that seek to produce such international or global goods.
We also use several dummy variables to control for specific issue areas treaties
deal with. In particular, we include dummies for the following issue areas: pollution,
species,nuclear, and habitat. Treaties dealing with agricultural issues serve as the
baseline category.
Descriptive statistics and binary correlations are shown in Tables A.1,A.2 and A.8
of the online Appendix.
Since we are dealing with count data (number of countries that have ratified a
given treaty by the end of the period of analysis) we assume a negative binomial
process with the number of years a treaty has been open for ratification as exposure
time. The latter means that we control for the fact that treaties that were concluded
earlier have had more time to attract ratifications. We use the negative binomial rather
than a poisson specification because of overdispersion.
9
4 Results
We begin with a discussion of the main results. We then examine how different
combinations of our independent variables affect ratification rates and also discuss
the robustness of the results.
4.1 Main results
Tab le 1displays the main results. The second column reports the negative binomial
coefficients (beta). Column three shows the exponent of these coefficients (exp(beta))
and the last column indicates percentage changes to facilitate quantitative interpretation.
Overall, we find only little support for the depth versus participationclaim. Although
the coefficient on the specificity of obligations variable (obligation) is negative and
9
Since the results are very similar and inference does not change whether we use robust standard errors or
not, we refrain from showing the results with non-robust standard errors. They are available from the
authors on request.
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statistically significant, the coefficients on both the monitoring and enforcement variables
do not reach standard significance levels and point in the opposite direction. This finding
suggests that more demanding treaties, in the sense that they incorporate specific targets,
do indeed reduce the number of participating countries. However, the inclusion of
monitoring and enforcement mechanisms does not seem to discourage ratification further.
The argument that states refrain from joining agreements they find costly to imple-
ment is thus only partially supported. Whereas states seem to perceive precise targets
as a ratification hurdle, this is not the case for the mechanisms monitoring and
enforcement meant to deter or identify and punish non-compliance.
However, an explanation we cannot fully rule out is the possibility that the
monitoring and enforcement mechanisms typically found in environmental
treaties have too little bite and therefore they do not really deter countries
from ratifying a particular treaty. If countries know, a priori, that monitoring
and enforcement provisions are merely nominal, these design features should
not influence their ratification decisions. However, in view of the fact that we
compare a large number of global environmental treaties it is impossible to
code monitoring and enforcement provisions in a more fine-grained manner.
And even if we could, we would still not know which of these provisions are
really biting in practice. Hence we believe that a binary coding is more reliable
and meaningful even though it does not allow us to fully rule out that most
Table 1 Main results
Coefficient βExp(β)%
Obligations 0.356 (0.160)** 0.70 30.0
Monitoring 0.056 (0.154) 1.06 5.7
Enforcement 0.058 (0.157) 1.06 6.0
Assistance, all 0.583 (0.199)*** 1.80 79.1
Assistance, developing 2.012 (0.246)*** 7.48 648.2
Dispute settlement 0.254 (0.125)** 1.29 28.9
Own secretariat 0.421 (0.200)** 0.66 34.3
Existing secretariat 0.172 (0.176) 0.84 15.8
Global public good 0.596 (0.159)*** 0.55 44.9
Global/domestic public good 0.543 (0.324)* 0.58 41.9
Pollution 0.293 (0.150)* 0.75 25.4
Species 0.563 (0.163)*** 0.57 43.0
Nuclear 0.059 (0.219) 0.94 5.7
Habitat 0.405 (0.151)*** 0.67 33.3
Constant 1.123 (0.245)***
Alpha 0.79 (.07)***
Observations 211
Log likelihood 890.50
LR chi2(11) 167.23
Prob > chi2 0.00
Robust standard errors in parentheses; * significant at 10 %; ** significant at 5 %; *** significant at 1 %
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monitoring and enforcement provisions in global environmental treaties are
probably little more than nominal.
In line with our theoretical argument, treaties that include a dispute settlement
mechanism attract a larger number of countries than treaties without such a mecha-
nism. As shown in Table 1, the inclusion of a dispute settlement mechanism increases
the ratification rate by around 29 %. This finding supports our theoretical argument
that dispute settlement mechanisms can facilitate cooperation by increasing transpar-
ency through the provision of information, reducing transaction costs, and allowing
participating countries to resolve conflicts in accordance with stipulated rules and
procedures.
10
Our argument that positive incentives, such as the granting of technical and/or
financial assistance, foster ratification receives strong support. The coefficients on
both assistance to all countries and assistance to developing countries are positive and
highly significant. The effect is also very strong in substantive terms. General
assistance increases participation by 79 % and assistance to developing countries
increases participation by 648 %.
In contrast to our theoretical argument, the ratification propensity for treaties with
their own secretariat is 34 % lower than for treaties without any secretariat. This
finding challenges the argument that treaty specific secretariats are valuable to
member countries because they provide information and policy advice and assist
countries in meeting their obligations. One possible explanation for the negative and
statistically significant coefficient of the secretariat variable could be that agreements
establishing a new secretariat are also agreements with a more ambitious agenda and
are therefore more burdensome for countries. This interpretation is in line with the
main argument of the depth-versus-participation perspective, which posits that more
demanding treaties discourage ratification.
It is important to keep in mind that the coding of treaty characteristics is binary.
Hence the results capture relative differences between treaties. For instance, while
none of the assistance provisions in the 211 treaties examined may be very ambitious
(in some sense of that term), we do find that treaties with some specific assistance
provisions attract more countries. Similarly, none of the treaties in our sample may
have very strong enforcement mechanisms. We do find, however, that those treaties
with some form of enforcement mechanism do not attract fewer countries than
treaties without any kind of enforcement mechanism.
The control variables behave largely as expected. Agreements dealing with
global public goods attract fewer countries, compared to agreements dealing with
local public goods. The coefficients of both indicators for public goods are
negative and statistically significant. Agreements dealing with global public goods
are around 45 % less likely to be ratified. With regard to issue areas, agreements
on pollution, species and habitat appear to be less attractive than other
agreements.
Regarding the appropriateness of the negative binomial model, alpha is statistical-
ly significantly larger than zero. We thus have to reject the null hypothesis of no over-
10
Rosendorff (2005:389) also reports results that are similar to the ones presented here. In particular, he
finds that preferential trade agreements (PTAs) that include dispute settlement procedures are more
acceptable to a wider range of countries than agreements without DSP.
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dispersion. This implies that the negative binomial rather than a simple poisson model
is the adequate model specification.
4.2 Additive effects of independent variables
To illustrate how different combinations of our independent variables affect ratifica-
tion behavior, Tables 2and 3show the number of ratifications our regression model
predicts for certain combinations of institutional design features as manifest in some
well-known global environmental treaties. Such analysis is interesting because, for
instance, the effects of the specificity of obligations and monitoring and enforcement
might add up to an even more ratification deterrent effect than each variable consid-
ered separately. That is, monitoring and enforcement of obligations, to the extent the
latter are specific, are likely to generate higher implementation costs and higher non-
compliance costs for countries that join the respective treaty. In contrast, those costs
are likely to be smaller for agreements with specific obligations but no monitoring
and enforcement mechanisms. Similarly, the specificity of obligations and assistance
could be important in combination because assistance could offset the costs imposed
by specific treaty obligations. We thus do not argue that there should be any
Table 2 Combinations of treaty characteristics
United
Nations
Framework
Convention
on Climate
Change
Kyoto
Protocol to
the United
Nations
Framework
Convention on
Climate
Change
International
Convention
to Combat
Desertification
in those Countries
Experiencing
Serious
Drought and/or
Desertification
Protocol on
Substances
that Deplete
the Ozone
Layer
United
Nations
Convention
on the Law
of the Sea
Predicted ratifications 118 64 106 145 95
Actual ratifications 170 109 161 164 115
Obligations 0 1 1 1 1
Monitoring 1 1 1 1 1
Enforcement 0 1 0 1 0
Assistance, all 0 0 0 0 0
Assistance, developing 1 1 1 1 1
Dispute settlement 1 1 1 1 1
Own secretariat 1 0 1 0 1
Existing secretariat 0 1 0 1 0
Global public good 1 1 0 1 1
Global/domestic public good 0 0 0 0 0
Pollution 1 1 0 1 1
Species 0 0 0 0 0
Nuclear 0 0 0 0 0
Habitat 0 0 1 0 0
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interaction effects in that, for example, the effect of assistance should differ whether
obligations are specified or not. In contrast we would like to show, how the different
effects of the various treaty design characteristics add up and thus lead to different
ratification effects overall.
For the purpose of this analysis we focus on several well-known global environ-
mental treaties. We set all independent and control variables to the values for the
respective treaty and show both our predictions and the actual ratification rates for
these treaties. We opt for this approach because all independent variables need to be
set to a specific value in order to obtain predicted values for the dependent variable.
With respect to different combinations of monitoring, enforcement and specificity
of obligations we do not observe that the effects add up negatively. Both the Kyoto
Protocol and especially the Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer are
characterized by a relatively high number of predicted ratifications, despite
combining specific obligations with monitoring and enforcement mechanisms.
Similarly, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and the
International Convention to Combat Desertification are characterized by a high
number of predicted ratifications, although they combine monitoring provisions
with specific obligations. In contrast, the Convention on the High Seas and the
Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species come with a relatively
low number of predicted ratifications, although both of them contain neither
specific obligations nor enforcement provisions. Consequently, our data does
Table 3 Combinations of treaty characteristics
Convention
on the High
Seas
International Convention
for the Prevention of
Pollution from Ships
(MARPOL)
International
Convention for
the Regulation
of Whaling
Convention on the
Conservation of
Migratory Species
of Wild Animals
Predicted ratifications 56 56 28 28
Actual ratifications 59 26 32 59
Obligations 0 1 1 0
Monitoring 0 1 1 1
Enforcement 0 0 0 0
Assistance, all 0 1 0 0
Assistance, developing 0 0 0 0
Dispute settlement 0 1 0 1
Own secretariat 0 0 1 0
Existing secretariat 0 1 0 1
Global public good 1 1 1 1
Global/domestic public
good
00 0 0
Pollution 1 1 0 0
Species 0 0 1 1
Nuclear 0 0 0 0
Habitat 0 0 1 0
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not support the prediction that specific obligations combined with monitoring
and enforcement provisions reduce the ratification rate.
Interestingly, we observe that all treaties mandating assistance to developing
countries are characterized by a rather high number of predicted ratifications, inde-
pendently of whether they also contain specific obligations or not (Table 2). This
result lends support to the conjecture that assistance can make attractive even those
treaties that require specific obligations.
Concerning the fit of our model more generally, we observe that in most
cases, such as the Convention on the High Seas, the International Convention
for the Regulation of Whaling, and the Protocol on Substances that Deplete the
Ozone Layer, the predicted number of ratifications is very close to the actual
number of ratifications. However, in some cases our predictions deviate from
the actual number of ratifications. Examples are the United Nations Framework
Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC), for which we predict ratification by
118 countries, whereas in reality 170 countries have ratified, and the Kyoto
Protocol, for which we predict 64 ratifications, whereas in reality 109 countries
have ratified. One reason for underestimating ratifications in those two cases is
that these agreements deal with a global public good. Treaties dealing with
global public goods are, according to theory and in correspondence with our
modelsshowninTable1, ratified by fewer countries. Nonetheless, both the
UNFCC and the Kyoto Protocol have reached high popularity, which makes
them exceptional and arguably accounts for the deviation between the actual
and predicted ratification number.
11
4.3 Robustness of results and discussion
The results discussed so far are based on the sample including both stand-alone
global environmental agreements and related protocols (but excluding amendments).
Table A.3 in the online Appendix shows that our main results are robust to the
exclusion of protocols, which may not be independent of the respective main
agreement. The only exceptions are the coefficients on the secretariat variable and
the two control variables for mixed public goods and habitat, which become insig-
nificant (but do not change signs) when protocols are excluded. This might be due to
the smaller sample size.
In addition to excluding all protocols from the analysis, we examined the
robustness of our results by including additional treaty design characteristics
and by disaggregating the dispute mechanism variable. In principle, a plethora
of different treaty characteristics exist. From a theoretical standpoint, however,
it is not evident that the inclusion of any of these additional characteristics is
warranted. Nonetheless, as a robustness check we introduce two further treaty
characteristics that have received some attention in the existing literature. These
characteristics are voting rules and whether a treaty provides for regular
meetings.
11
In fact, if we calculate the predicted number of ratifications for both treaties while setting the value of
global public goods to zero, our model predicts a considerably higher number of ratifications.
Is there a Depth versus Participationdilemma
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Assuming that countries join international treaties to advance their own interests, they
should be concerned with the formal voting procedures treaty members use to reach
decisions. Whereas unanimity voting implies that decisions can only be taken with the
endorsement of all members, that is, every member has veto power, majority voting
prevents individual member countries from blocking a decision. Unlike unanimity,
under majority rule no single country has a significant formal capacity to block or
prevent a proposed measure. Majority voting should, therefore, entail a greater loss of
sovereignty over treaty-related decisions than unanimity voting. Accordingly, we should
expect countries to be more willing to join agreements that provide for unanimity rule.
Treaties also differ with regard to whether they require regular meetings of
member states. Holding meetings involves transaction costs in the form of coordi-
nating the members to the treaty, arranging for a time and place, taking decisions, etc.
Treaties mandating regular meetings are thus likely to be more demanding, which in
turn may have negative implications for participation.
We examine these additional arguments relating to treaty design by introducing two
design variables. Unanimity voting takes the value 1 if decisions in the highest treaty-related
body are taken by unanimity, and 0 otherwise. Similarly, meetings is a dummy variable
indicating whether or not an agreement requires regular meetings of its member states.
As Table A.4 in the online Appendix shows the coefficient on unanimity voting is
negative but not statistically significant. This result is surprising, given that unanimity
voting imposes fewer constraints on countriessovereignty. Although the coefficient
on meetings is negative, which is in line with the interpretation that treaties with
meetings are more demanding, it does not reach statistical significance either. More
importantly, however, the results concerning our main variables of interest do not
change, which lends further support to the above made conclusions.
Our main results rely on a binary coding of treaty design characteristics. As
discussed at the beginning of the empirical section, using a more fine-grained scale
for measurement of treaty design characteristics would create serious reliability
problems. The main exception is the variable for dispute settlement mechanisms,
for which we can provide a disaggregation of the original, binary variable. Specifi-
cally, we distinguish between three categories of dispute settlement: highly elaborated
dispute settlement mechanisms that are institutionalized within the treaty (dispute,
elaborated),
12
those that are part of the treaty framework, but only on an ad hoc basis
(dispute, ad hoc), and those that delegate dispute settlement to a treaty-external
institution (dispute,delegated); with no dispute settlement provisions serving as the
baseline category.
Interestingly, the effect of the dispute settlement mechanism varies according to
the type of such mechanism set up by a treaty (Table A.4). The existence of
provisions delegating dispute settlement to bodies outside the respective treaty (such
as the International Court of Justice) increases the ratification rate significantly.
Similarly, provisions for ad hoc dispute settlement procedures within a treaty also
increase the ratification rate, though this effect does not reach statistical significance.
Such ad-hoc provisions usually hold that countries, in case of a dispute, should find a
mutually acceptable solution, but do not specify in detail ex ante what mechanisms
12
For example, the Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution from Land-Based Sources includes
very detailed dispute settlement provisions.
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should be used to that end. These findings support the argument that dispute
settlement mechanisms help in reducing ambiguity by clarifying treaty rules and
providing relevant information, and hence they are attractive to countries. Surpris-
ingly, however, the existence of elaborate dispute settlement procedures inside a
treaty does not have a statistically significant effect. We interpret these findings in
the sense that the presumably somewhat weaker dispute settlement mechanisms
promote participation, whereas the more complex and presumably more costly
mechanisms of this kind do not deter participation.
Another, quite fundamental, conceptual challenge to our findings could be that
international agreements are, a priori, designed in ways that accommodate most
countriesinterests. In the most extreme case, treaties may simply reflect lowest
common denominator bargaining outcomes. If this were the case, our empirical
approach might produce biased estimates because we have not explicitly accounted
for the factors that lead to specific bargaining outcomes and how those outcomes then
influence ratification behavior.
13
We do not know of any large-N empirical work that
includes both the bargaining and ratification process in one model. We submit,
however, that our results are unlikely to be biased for at least two reasons.
First, if international agreements were, as the neo-realist perspective on interna-
tional politics tends to argue, only frozen interests,we should not observe such
strong variation in ratification behavior across agreements (see descriptive statistics in
the online Appendix, Tables A1 and A2). In other words, if negotiators were willing
and able to design treaties so that these treaties accommodate most or even all
potential member countries(and also legislatures) interests, we should see only
little or even no variation in ratification rates between different treaties. In most
international negotiations we know of, a large majority or even all bargaining parties
must accept, adopt or sign a treaty text before the ratification phase can begin. If the
bargaining process thus acted as an effective filter through which only those agree-
ments acceptable to the large majority of negotiating countries could pass why do not
all treaties that make it through this filter eventually attract the same or a very similar
number of countries? Following a similar logic we should not observe statistically
significant and substantively important effects of some of our institutional design
variables if variation in ratification rates across treaties were driven primarily by
factors that determine bargaining outcomes.
Second, neo-realist scholars will probably argue that bargaining outcomes are
unlikely to be congruent with every participant countrys preferences (see first point),
but are more likely to correspond to what powerful countries want. That is, less
powerful countries may accept bargaining outcomes and thereby allow for the
ratification phase to begin, but only because of political or other types of pressure
by more powerful countries. The empirical implication of this argument is that, to the
extent more powerful countries are more likely to obtain the bargaining outcomes
they want, they should be more likely to ratify international agreements in whose
negotiation they have participated.
In most general terms, the two aforementioned points also imply that the coef-
ficients in our models could be biased if we did not control for variables that could
13
See also Fearon (1998) on how the shadow of the future can affect international bargaining and
consequently the level of cooperation achieved.
Is there a Depth versus Participationdilemma
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influence both the bargaining and the ratification outcome. Power, political regime
type, and level of development (income) are arguably the most important candidate
variables of this kind. Hence, we examine the possibility that the effect of our treaty
design variables is conditional on countriespower, regime type, or income. To that
end, we estimate our model for ten different samples, split according to a countrys
population or income, two distinct proxies for power and capacity, and according to
whether the country is a democracy or an autocracy. By considering the number of
ratifications for different groups of countries (for example, the top 10 % in terms of
income), we control for whether the coefficients change when looking at specific
subgroups of countries only. If the results differed significantly across sub-samples
this could indicate that specific types of countries may have obtained systematically
better (or worse) bargaining outcomes.
Tables A.5 and A.6 show that our main findings survive in the different sub-
samples. This result supports the conclusion that some treaty design characteristics
are indeed important determinants of ratification behavior. This expectation is also
supported by Table A.7 in the online Appendix, which shows the correlations
between ratification rates in the different sub-samples. Table A.7 indicates that
ratification rates in the various income and population groups as well as between
democracies and autocracies are highly correlated. That is, the effects of our treaty
design variables on ratification behavior do not vary much between more and less
powerful (in terms of population and income) and between democratic and non-
democratic countries. This supports our conclusion that treaty characteristics indeed
influence participation in environmental treaties and that these effects are not simply
driven by the bargaining phase of treaty establishment.
In addition to showing that our results are robust in different subsamples,
Tables A.5 and A.6 report additional insights that merit discussion. For example,
the effect of the two variables measuring assistance is more pronounced in the models
that consider only ratification by the poorest 10 % (model 1 in Table A.6) or the
poorest 25 % (model 4 in Table A.6) of the countries in our sample. Since technical or
financial assistance is mainly included in environmental treaties to transfer knowl-
edge, technologies, and resources to low capacity countries, this finding is completely
in line what one should observe following our theoretical argument.
Finally, we would like to discuss an additional way in which the negotiation phase
could affect the results of our analysis and for which we cannot fully control.
Theoretically it is possible that the number of countries at the negotiating table affects
which design characteristics are included in the specific treaty. For example, the
higher the number of potential member countries the more likely it might be that such
characteristics as secretariats are included since more countries means more need for
coordination. Furthermore, the more potential member parties the more heteroge-
neous the interests of these parties and thus the greater the need for dispute settlement
procedures. Controlling for this potential endogeneity problem would require finding
suitable instruments for all of the different design characteristics included in our
analysis. While it would be extremely hard to find one suitable instrument for one
design characteristic, finding eight exogenous variables to instrument for the various
design characteristics seems impossible. Hence we acknowledge that there exists a
potential endogeneity problem, which we, unfortunately, cannot fully control for. The
potential biases that might arise by not controlling for this problem could go into the
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following directions: we probably underestimate the deterrent effect of specific
obligations, and maybe also of monitoring and enforcement, since countries at the
negotiating table might agree on lowest common denominator solutions to attract as
many member countries as possible. Furthermore, as mentioned already above, those
treaties that are attractive to a great number of potential member countries should be
treaties that are more in need of design characteristics such as secretariats and dispute
settlement mechanisms. Finally, treaties regulating issue areas that require the inclu-
sion of many countries both from the developed and the developing world are
probably the treaties with the highest likelihood of including positive incentives such
as assistance provisions.
5 Conclusion
The formation of international regimes via international treaties is not complete when
formal international bargaining comes to an end. International cooperation can only
get off to an effective start once bargaining outcomes, notably those materializing in
the form of a treaty, are ratified by the negotiatorshome countries. While most of the
existing literature on the formation of international treaties concentrates on the
negotiation process as well as treaty compliance and effectiveness, we focus on the
ratification stage. In particular, we examine whether treaty design features that are
expected to increase the depth of cooperation among countries affect participation in
those treaties.
We argue that some treaty design features aimed at increasing the depth of
cooperation, such as clearly stated targets, monitoring, and enforcement mech-
anisms should decrease treaty participation mainly because of implementation
costs and sovereignty concerns. Moreover, we argue that positivecompliance
mechanisms aimed at clarifying and facilitating the implementation of treaty
rules, such as dispute settlement mechanisms and technical and financial assis-
tance, which are also expressions of the depth of cooperation, should have a
positive effect on treaty participation.
We assess these theoretical arguments using a dataset that covers more than 200
global environmental treaties since 1950. We find only little support for the argument
that more demanding treaties attract fewer countries. By implication, we find only
very limited evidence for a depth versus participation dilemma in global environ-
mental cooperation. To the contrary, our results show that treaties with assistance
provisions and dispute settlement mechanisms are more attractive.
Of course, we cannot exclude the possibility that some of the toughest problems
are kept off the international agenda, or that negotiations fail to produce treaties in
such cases. Since our analysis focuses on the ratification phase of international
cooperation, we cannot rule out that such difficulties exist at the bargaining stage.
It is quite possible, therefore, that some form of depth versus participation dilemma
exists when the global political agenda is set and bargaining takes place. Nevertheless,
once the ratification stage is reached our results leave considerable room for optimism
regarding the prospects for global environmental cooperation.
Our optimism is based on the presumed rational behavior of states. Given
that countries do not appear to stay away from treaties that mandate deeper
Is there a Depth versus Participationdilemma
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cooperation, as shown by our analysis, particular treaty designs, such as treaties
including dispute settlement mechanisms, can foster cooperation. The main reason is
that such mechanisms carry the potential of enticing hesitant countries to participate by
decreasing uncertainty surrounding the behavior of other states. In addition, financial,
technical or other types of assistance that help countries, especially less developed ones,
to implement treaty obligations can serve as an important tool for securing ratification
and thus taking an important step toward solving international problems. The very
strong global participation in the Montreal Protocol for protecting the stratospheric
ozone layer, for example, can to a considerable degree be attributed to very substantive
assistance mechanisms in that protocol and its amendments. Recent rounds of negoti-
ation on climate change mitigation, such as the Copenhagen conference, have also made
it very clear that a strong assistance mechanism will be required to achieve greater
commitment from developing countries.
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Is there a Depth versus Participationdilemma
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Supplementary resource (1)

... Third, a chi-square test and a cross-tabulation analysis were each performed once each [79,83]. Finally, Bernauer et al. [76] employed descriptive statistics and mainly relied on binary correlation analysis. The centralization of statistical correlation allows for a broad spectrum of enriching mathematical techniques. ...
... Initially, the literature was divided between the causes and consequences research lens. While 15 out of 21 dived into the nature of institutional design, 6 contributions [75][76][77]79,88,89] query about its implications. Secondly, a systematization was employed to identify the specific variables analyzed within the Koremenos, Lipson, and Snidal [2] framework. ...
... They verify that implementation and compliance difficulties, such as UNCERTAINTY or ENFORCEMENT problems, are associated with high levels of INSTITUTIONALIZATION or the inclusion of provisions for institutional governance (centralization). In doing so, they support rational problem-solving logic and Bernauer et al.'s [76] statement that environmental problem structures are a key determinant of institutional design. ...
Article
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Global governance challenges highlight the role of international institutions as problem-solving structures. Institutional design is, more than ever, relevant in this context. The academic literature on this issue is characterized by the existence of consolidated debates such as that of rationalism vs. constructivism, with a focus on making specific contributions to the rational de-sign of international institutions. Koremenos, Lipson, and Snidal (2001) elaborated upon a series of cause-effect conjectures linking cooperation problems, considered independent variables, with institutional design features, considered dependent variables. This research aims to highlight the empirical evidence of the existing debate on this work by conducting a systematic review. Twenty-one quantitative research studies were collected through a screening and selection procedure and were subject to systematization. The findings showed asymmetric approaches to the rational design project, and agreements were the type of international institution that received the most attention from academia. Rationalism was supported by most of the body of literature. However, a broad subgroup of articles complemented this rational approach with other variables or schools of thought, such as those of constructivism and historical institutionalism. The results have relevance for the international institution design literature, as future avenues of potential research are underlined.
... Third, a chi-square test and a cross-tabulation analysis were each performed once each [79,83]. Finally, Bernauer et al. [76] employed descriptive statistics and mainly relied on binary correlation analysis. The centralization of statistical correlation allows for a broad spectrum of enriching mathematical techniques. ...
... Initially, the literature was divided between the causes and consequences research lens. While 15 out of 21 dived into the nature of institutional design, 6 contributions [75][76][77]79,88,89] query about its implications. Secondly, a systematization was employed to identify the specific variables analyzed within the Koremenos, Lipson, and Snidal [2] framework. ...
... They verify that implementation and compliance difficulties, such as UNCERTAINTY or ENFORCEMENT problems, are associated with high levels of INSTITUTIONALIZATION or the inclusion of provisions for institutional governance (centralization). In doing so, they support rational problem-solving logic and Bernauer et al.'s [76] statement that environmental problem structures are a key determinant of institutional design. ...
Article
Full-text available
Global governance challenges highlight the role of international institutions as problemsolving structures. Institutional design is, more than ever, relevant in this context. The academic literature on this issue is characterized by the existence of consolidated debates such as that of rationalism vs. constructivism, with a focus on making specific contributions to the rational design of international institutions. Koremenos, Lipson, and Snidal (2001) elaborated upon a series of cause-effect conjectures linking cooperation problems, considered independent variables, with institutional design features, considered dependent variables. This research aims to highlight the empirical evidence of the existing debate on this work by conducting a systematic review. Twentyone quantitative research studies were collected through a screening and selection procedure and were subject to systematization. The findings showed asymmetric approaches to the rational design project, and agreements were the type of international institution that received the most attention from academia. Rationalism was supported by most of the body of literature. However, a broad subgroup of articles complemented this rational approach with other variables or schools of thought, such as those of constructivism and historical institutionalism. The results have relevance for the international institution design literature, as future avenues of potential research are underlined.
... We show-in line with the key expectation from the formal model advanced by Gilligan (2004)-that the trade-off is conditioned by the scope for differentiation in an agreement. Specifically, by extending a prior quantitative analysis by Bernauer et al. (2013), we demonstrate that when there are no provisions for differentiation, greater "depth" indeed reduces participation. However, when such provisions are present, it becomes possible to sustain high levels of both. ...
... A key question has been why this is. One suggestion by Bernauer et al. (2013) is that other design features can incentivize participation. By facilitating compliance, by providing dispute settlement mechanisms, and by creating secretariats that can help build capacity, they argue that compliance costs can be offset, leading to more participation. ...
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In this article we measure, describe, and demonstrate the importance of differential treatment for developing countries in multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs). So far, we argue, quantitative research on differentiation has been minimal due to data constraints and the complex nature of relevant provisions. In response, we offer a way of relieving this constraint, exploiting the fact that MEAs with differentiation typically identify distinct sets of “developing country” parties. After describing the data collection process, we show that differentiation is surprisingly uncommon, appearing in only 6 percent of MEAs, and disproportionately appears in larger, more recent agreements. We then test a key conjecture about differentiation by revisiting the debate on the depth–participation dilemma. We demonstrate, specifically, how it conditions this relationship. When MEAs do not differentiate, greater depth reduces participation; when they do, the relationship is reversed, making it possible to sustain high levels of both. This result helps to reconcile conflicting findings in earlier studies and has important policy implications.
... They assume the bargaining outcome and a static game. These assumptions have been criticized by political scientists: Arguably, the trade-o¤ vanishes with heterogeneous policies (Gilligan, 2004) or endogenous enforcement (Bernauer et al., 2013). My analysis rediscovers the trade-o¤ when the bargaining game and compliance are micro-founded. ...
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... The substance of the effect suggests that moving from the 25 th percentile to the 75 th percentile of GDP lowers the likelihood of a treaty-country combination having institutionalized nonstate actor access by about 9 percentage points. This finding reflects the argument that particularly powerful states are concerned about sovereignty and will try to avoid cuts into their decision-making power (Bernauer et al. 2010(Bernauer et al. , 2013b. Second, the variables for income, regime type, and trade openness are insignificant. ...
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Chapter
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Some international tribunals, such as the Iran-U.S. claims tribunal and the trade-dispute panels set up under GATT, are "dependent" in the sense that the judges are appointed by the state parties for the purpose of resolving a particular dispute. If the judges do not please the state parties, they will not be used again. Other international tribunals, such as the International Court of Justice, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, and the new International Criminal Court, are "independent" in the sense that the judges are appointed in advance of any particular dispute and serve fixed terms. The conventional wisdom, which is based mainly on the European experience, is that independent tribunals are more effective at resolving disputes than are dependent tribunals. We argue that the evidence does not support this view, and, moreover, that the evidence is more consistent with the contrary thesis: the most successful tribunals are dependent. We also argue that the European Court of Justice is not a good model for international tribunals because it owes its success to the high level of political and economic unification among European states. We conclude with skeptical predictions about the International Criminal Court and the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, the newest international tribunals.
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