Autocratic Ratification: Environmental Cooperation to Prolong Survival

50 Pages Posted: 16 Jun 2012

Date Written: June 15, 2012


The spread of democracy, and specifically the establishment of more democratic institutions within states, has long been held as a sufficient condition for unlocking greater levels of international cooperation and the spread of better environmental quality. However, the exploration of a new dataset of 51 environmental treaties suggests that it may not be a necessary one. Autocracies ratify these treaties at rates not dramatically different from their democratic counterparts and these outcomes depend on substantively different leadership incentives and institutional constraints. This paper provides evidence that dictators weigh the costs of the ratification decision (threats to rent extraction and revenue maximization) against the benefits (the promise of environmental goods to prolong survival) when evaluating an environmental treaty. If an important aim is to maximize environmental treaty participation, then exploring the incentives that have successfully motivated dictator behavior in the past may provide useful lessons for the design of treaties in the future.

Keywords: Treaty Ratification, Dictatorship, Environmental Goods

Suggested Citation

Leinaweaver, Justin, Autocratic Ratification: Environmental Cooperation to Prolong Survival (June 15, 2012). Available at SSRN: or

Justin Leinaweaver (Contact Author)

Drury University ( email )

900 N. Benton
Springfield, MO 65802
United States


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