Contrived Symmetry through the International Atomic Energy Agency
57 Pages Posted: 29 Jun 2011
Date Written: June 27, 2011
International organizations are sometimes designed to contrive symmetry, sacrificing policy effectiveness for the sake of preserving a balance of bargaining leverage among member states. When cooperation requires unequal investments in relationship-specific or complementary goods, states will design international organizations with exemptions for some members and limits on the depth of cooperation, even when these reduce the overall value of cooperation to all members, because such limits are the only way to make cooperation mutually-agreeable in the first place. At the height of its post-WWII predominance the U.S. sought an international system to regulate the spread of nuclear technology, a goal widely shared by allies and adversaries alike, but its initial proposals for a strong supranational authority were rejected. Instead, the limits and exemptions structured into the 1957 agreement creating the International Atomic Energy Agency represented substantial compromises from key U.S. goals.
Keywords: international organizations, atomic energy, bargaining, IAEA
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