Essays on the Influence of International Agreements

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Essays on the Influence of International Agreements

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Title: Essays on the Influence of International Agreements
Author: Chilton, Adam Stuart
Citation: Chilton, Adam Stuart. 2013. Essays on the Influence of International Agreements. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University.
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Abstract: Since World War II, states have negotiated a staggering number of bilateral and multilateral international agreements. Despite that fact, scholars of international relations and international law have only recently begun to take the idea that these agreements can have important influences on domestic policies and international affairs seriously. This dissertation is comprised of five essays that all try to do exactly that, and hopefully in the process, help improve our understanding of the influence of bilateral and multilateral international agreements on state behavior. The first three essays examine compliance with the laws of war and international human rights treaties. Chapter 2 shows that prior ratification of treaties on the laws of war is a strong predictor that a country will be less likely to kill civilians during intrastate wars, and suggest that there may be a causal relationship between ratification and lower levels of mass violence against civilians for transitioning democracies. Chapter 3 conducts a randomized survey experiment to test whether information on the status of international law changes public opinion on violations of the laws of war, and produces results showing that international law does change public opinion—especially when the other side has committed to following the laws of war. Chapter 4 uses a randomized experiment to test the theory that domestic politics drives compliance with human rights treaties, and demonstrates that whether the United States has previously ratified international human rights treaties has the potential to change public opinion on purely domestic policies. The final two essays examine the United States’ policies in two areas of international economic law. Chapter 5 (with Rachel Brewster) explores the United States’ compliance with adverse WTO decisions, and argues that the largest determinant of if, and when, America complies is whether Congress is required to act to provide the remedy. Finally, Chapter 6 uses a range of evidence to argue that the United States’ Bilateral Investment Treaty program has not been primarily motivated by a desire to provide protections for American investors abroad, but instead it has been a tool to improve relationships with developing states.
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