Vote-Trading in International Institutions

34 Pages Posted: 10 Oct 2007

See all articles by Ofer Eldar

Ofer Eldar

Duke University School of Law; Duke University - Fuqua School of Business; Duke Innovation & Entrepreneurship Initiative

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Abstract

There is evidence that countries trade votes among each other in international institutions on a wide range of issues, including the use of force, trade issues and elections of judges. Vote-trading has been criticized as being a form of corruption, undue influence and coercion. Contrary to common wisdom, however, I argue in this paper that the case for introducing policy measures against vote-trading cannot be made out on the basis of available evidence. This paper sets out an analytical framework for analyzing vote-trading in international institutions, focusing on three major contexts in which vote-trading may generate benefits and costs: (1) agency costs (collective good), (2) coercive tendering and (3) agency costs (constituents). The applicability of each context depends primarily on the type of decision in question - i.e. preference-decision or judgment-decision - and the interests that countries are expected to maximize when voting. The analytical framework is applied to evidence of vote-trading in four institutions, the Security Council, the General Assembly, the World Trade Organization and the International Whaling Commission. The application of the analysis reveals that while vote-trading can create significant costs, there is only equivocal evidence to this effect, and in several cases vote-trading generates important benefits.

Keywords: Vote-trading, vote-buying, international law, international institutions, economic analysis

JEL Classification: K33

Suggested Citation

Eldar, Ofer, Vote-Trading in International Institutions. European Journal of International Law, Vol. 19, No. 1, 2008. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1019330

Ofer Eldar (Contact Author)

Duke University School of Law ( email )

210 Science Drive
Box 90362
Durham, NC 27708
United States

Duke University - Fuqua School of Business ( email )

Box 90120
Durham, NC 27708-0120
United States

Duke Innovation & Entrepreneurship Initiative ( email )

215 Morris St., Suite 300
Durham, NC 27701
United States

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