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The Compliance Gap and Effects of International Agreements
Xinyuan Dai
Associate 2016-17

With growing interdependence among countries, the number of international agreements among sovereign states has increased exponentially across diverse issue areas. If these international agreements are meant to regulate states’ behavior, are they working? How do we know? Despite growing attention to the effects of international agreements, the current scholarship is confused as to what constitutes the appropriate criteria by which we should evaluate international agreements. This confusion results in a large part from the failure to appreciate systematically how the way in which agreements are negotiated shapes their effects. To understand what the observable compliance gap may tell us about the effects of international agreements, we need to first understand how and to what extent the compliance gap is structurally induced. This project will explain how the compliance gap is pre-determined by the problem structure that states face and the bargaining leverage of participating states. It will thus provide an analytical benchmark to infer the effects of international institutions, and further leads us to rethink the strategic nature of international agreements.