The Limits of Information Revelation in Multilateral Negotiations: A Theory of Treatymaking
23 Pages Posted: 2 May 2018 Last revised: 20 Mar 2021
Date Written: June 5, 2018
States negotiate over the specific terms of multilateral treaties because those terms determine states' willingness to ratify the treaty. A state might decline to ratify a treaty it otherwise supports because specific terms are too far from those it prefers. Negotiators would like to uncover the minimal terms needed to secure the ratification of key states, but under what circumstances will those states candidly reveal those terms? Using a spatial model of the issues in a treaty negotiation, we use mechanism design to determine what information states will reveal. States are willing to reveal their preferred resolution of tradeoffs between the different issues but not the minimal terms they require for ratification. Further, negotiations cannot always separate types that need concessions to ratify from other types that would like concessions but would ratify the treaty even if they do not receive them.
Keywords: treaties, international bargaining, international law, international organizations
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