Skip to main content
×
×
Home

The Language of Compromise in International Agreements

  • Katerina Linos and Tom Pegram
Abstract

To reach agreement, international negotiators often compromise by using flexible language: they make controversial provisions vague, or add options and caveats. Does flexibility in agreement language influence subsequent state behavior? If so, do states follow both firm and flexible language somewhat, as negotiators hope? Or do governments respond strategically, increasing their energies on firmly specified tasks, and reducing their efforts on flexibly specified ones? Testing theories about agreement language is difficult because states often reserve flexible language for controversial provisions. To make causal claims, we study an unusually drafted agreement in which states had almost no opportunity to dilute agreement language. We examine the influence of the 1991 Paris Principles on the Design of National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs), using an original data set of twenty-two institutional safeguards of NHRIs in 107 countries, and case studies. We find that variations in agreement language can have large effects on state behavior, even when the entire agreement is nonbinding. Both democracies and authoritarian states followed the principles' firm terms closely. However, authoritarian states either ignored or reduced their efforts on flexibly specified tasks. If flexibly specifying a task is no different from omitting it altogether, as our data suggest, the costs of compromise are much greater than previously believed.

Copyright
References
Hide All
Abbott, Kenneth W., Keohane, Robert O., Moravcsik, Andrew, Slaughter, Anne-Marie, and Snidal, Duncan. 2000. The Concept of Legalization. International Organization 54 (3):401–19.
Abbott, Kenneth W., and Snidal, Duncan. 2000. Hard and Soft Law in International Governance. International Organization 54 (3):421–56.
Biblioteca del Congreso Nacional de Chile. 2009. Historia de la Ley No. 20.405. Del Instituto Nacional de Derechos Humanos. Santiago. Available at <http://www.bcn.cl/historiadelaley/nc/historia-de-la-ley/4791/>. Accessed 16 February 2016.
Brewster, Rachel. 2010. Stepping Stone or Stumbling Block: Incrementalism and National Climate Change Legislation. Yale Law and Policy Review 28 (2):245312.
Cardenas, Sonia. 2014. Chains of Justice: The Global Rise of State Institutions for Human Rights. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
Carver, Richard. 2000. Performance and Legitimacy: National Human Rights Institutions. 2nd ed. Versoix, Switzerland: International Council on Human Rights Policy.
Carver, Richard. 2005. Assessing the Effectiveness of National Human Rights Institutions. Versoix, Switzerland: International Council on Human Rights Policy.
Chayes, Abram, and Chayes, Antonia Handler. 1993. On Compliance. International Organization 47 (2):175205.
Cole, Wade M., and Ramirez, Francisco O.. 2013. Conditional Decoupling: Assessing the Impact of National Human Rights Institutions, 1981 to 2004. American Sociological Review 78 (4):702–25.
Creamer, Cosette, and Simmons, Beth A.. 2013. Transparency at Home: How Well Do Governments Share Human Rights Information with Citizens? In Transparency in International Law, edited by Bianchi, Andrea and Peters, Anne, 239–68. New York: Cambridge University Press.
DeMeritt, Jacqueline, Conrad, Courtenay, and Fariss, Christopher. 2015. The Unintended Consequences of Human Rights Advocacy on State Repression. Paper presented at the 56th Annual Convention of the International Studies Association, February, New Orleans.
Domingo, Pilar. 2006. Weak Courts, Rights, and Legal Mobilization in Bolivia. In Courts and Social Transformation in New Democracies: An Institutional Voice for the Poor? edited by Gargarella, Roberto, Domingo, Pilar, and Roux, Theunis, 233–54. Burlington, VT: Ashgate.
Downs, George W., Rocke, David M., and Barsoom, Peter N.. 1996. Is the Good News About Compliance Good News About Cooperation? International Organization 50 (3):379406.
Dunning, Thad. 2012. Natural Experiments in the Social Sciences: A Design-Based Approach. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Fariss, Christopher J. 2014. Respect for Human Rights Has Improved Over Time: Modeling the Changing Standard of Accountability. American Political Science Review 108 (2):297318.
Fariss, Christopher J., and Schnakenberg, Keith E.. 2014. Measuring Mutual Dependence Between State Repressive Actions. Journal of Conflict Resolution 58 (6):1003–32.
Finkel, Evgeny. 2012. The Authoritarian Advantage of Horizontal Accountability: Ombudsmen in Poland and Russia. Comparative Politics 44 (3):291310.
Finnemore, Martha. 1993. International Organizations as Teachers of Norms: The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and Science Policy. International Organization 47 (4):565–97.
Franck, Thomas M. 1990. The Power of Legitimacy Among Nations. New York: Oxford University Press.
Gamble, John King Jr. 1985. The 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea as Soft Law. Houston Journal of International Law 8 (1):3747.
Ginsburg, Tom, and Moustafa, Tamir, eds. 2008. Rule by Law: The Politics of Courts in Authoritarian Regimes. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Gold, Joseph. 1983. Strengthening the Soft International Law of Exchange Arrangements. American Journal of International Law 77 (3):443–89.
Goldsmith, Jack L., and Posner, Eric A.. 2006. The Limits of International Law. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
Guzman, Andrew T. 2008. How International Law Works: A Rational Choice Theory. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
Guzman, Andrew T., and Linos, Katerina. 2014. Human Rights Backsliding. California Law Review 102: 603654.
Guzman, Andrew T., and Meyer, Timothy L.. 2010. International Soft Law. Journal of Legal Analysis 2 (1):171225.
Hafner-Burton, Emilie. 2005. Trading Human Rights: How Preferential Trade Agreements Influence Government Repression. International Organization 59 (3):593629.
Hafner-Burton, Emilie. 2013. Making Human Rights a Reality. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Hafner-Burton, Emilie, and Tsutsui, Kiyoteru, 2007. Justice Lost! The Failure of International Human Rights Law to Matter Where Needed Most. Journal of Peace Research 44 (4):407–25.
Hafner-Burton, Emilie M., and Ron, James. 2009. Seeing Double: Human Rights Impact Through Qualitative and Quantitative Eyes. World Politics 61 (2):360401.
Hathaway, Oona. 2002. Do Human Rights Treaties Make a Difference? Yale Law Journal 111 (8):19352042.
Kahler, Miles. 2000. Conclusion: The Causes and Consequences of Legalization. International Organization 54 (3):661–83.
Keck, Margaret E., and Sikkink, Kathryn. 1998. Activists Beyond Borders: Advocacy Networks in International Politics. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
Kelley, Judith G., and Simmons, Beth A.. 2015. Politics by Number: Indicators as Social Pressure in International Relations. American Journal of Political Science 59 (1):5570.
Kim, Dongwook. 2013. International Nongovernmental Organizations and the Global Diffusion of National Human Rights Institutions. International Organization 67 (3):505–39.
Koremenos, Barbara. 2005. Contracting Around International Uncertainty. American Political Science Review 99 (4):549–65.
Lebovic, James H., and Voeten, Erik. 2009. The Cost of Shame: International Organizations and Foreign Aid in the Punishing of Human Rights Violators. Journal of Peace Research 46 (1):7997.
Lindsnaes, Birgit B., Lindholt, Lone, and Yigen, Kristine, eds. 2001. National Human Rights Institutions: Articles and Working Papers. Copenhagen: Danish Centre for Human Rights.
Linos, Katerina. 2011. Diffusion Through Democracy. American Journal of Political Science 55 (3):678–95.
Linos, Katerina. 2013. Democratic Foundations of Policy Diffusion: How Health, Family, and Employment Laws Spread Across Countries. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
Linos, Katerina. 2015. How to Select and Develop International Law Case Studies: Lessons from Comparative Law and Comparative Politics. American Journal of International Law 109: 475+.
Lupu, Yonatan. 2013a. Best Evidence: The Role of Information in Domestic Judicial Enforcement of International Human Rights Agreements. International Organization 67 (3):469503.
Lupu, Yonatan. 2013b. The Informative Power of Treaty Commitment: Using the Spatial Model to Address Selection Effects. American Journal of Political Science 57 (4):912–25.
Odell, John S. 2001. Case Study Methods in International Political Economy. International Studies Perspectives 2 (2):161–76.
Okafor, Obiora Chinedu, and Agbakwa, Shedrack C.. 2002. On Legalism, Popular Agency and “Voices of Suffering”: The Nigerian Human Rights Commission in Context. Human Rights Quarterly 24 (3):662720.
Pegram, Thomas. 2012. National Human Rights Institutions in Latin America: Politics and Institutionalization. In Human Rights, State Compliance, and Social Change: Assessing National Human Rights Institutions, edited by Goodman, Ryan and Pegram, Thomas, 210–40. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Rosendorff, Peter. 2005. Stability and Rigidity: Politics and the Design of the WTO's Dispute Resolution Procedure. American Political Science Review 99 (3):389400.
Siavelis, Peter. 2000. The President and Congress in Postauthoritarian Chile: Institutional Constraints to Democratic Consolidation. University Park: Pennsylvania University Press.
Sikkink, Kathryn, and Walling, Carrie Booth. 2007. The Impact of Human Rights Trials in Latin America. Journal of Peace Research 44 (4):427–45.
Simmons, Beth A. 2009. Mobilizing for Human Rights: International Law in Domestic Politics. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Solomon, Peter H. 2007. Courts and Judges in Authoritarian Regimes. World Politics 60 (1):122–45.
Spilker, Gabriele, and Böhmelt, Tobias. 2013. The Impact of Preferential Trade Agreements on Governmental Repression Revisited. Review of International Organizations 8 (3):343–61.
Vásquez, Marcelo Rojas. 2008. Instituciones Nacionales de Derechos Humanos. In Informe Anual Sobre Derechos Humanos en Chile 2008, edited by Vásquez, Marcelo Rojas, 539–72. Santiago, Chile: Centro de Derechos Humanos, Universidad Diego Portales.
Verdier, Pierre-Hugues, and Versteeg, Mila. 2015. International Law in National Legal Systems: An Empirical Investigation. American Journal of International Law 109 (3):514533.
Wallace, Geoffrey. 2013. International Law and Public Attitudes Towards Torture: An Experimental Study. International Organization 67 (1):105–40.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

International Organization
  • ISSN: 0020-8183
  • EISSN: 1531-5088
  • URL: /core/journals/international-organization
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×
Type Description Title
UNKNOWN
Supplementary materials

Linos and Pegram supplementary material
Linos and Pegram supplementary material 2

 Unknown (476 KB)
476 KB
UNKNOWN
Supplementary materials

Linos and Pegram supplementary material
Linos and Pegram supplementary material 1

 Unknown (14 KB)
14 KB

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed