The Limits of Information Revelation in Multilateral Negotiations: A Theory of Treatymaking

46 Pages Posted: 2 May 2018 Last revised: 21 Jul 2018

See all articles by James Morrow

James Morrow

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - Department of Political Science

Kevin L. Cope

University of Virginia School of Law

Date Written: June 5, 2018

Abstract

We develop the first general model of multilateral treatymaking. The rules by which multilateral treaties are negotiated and take effect differ in crucial ways from those governing other political institutions, such as bilateral treaties, legislatures, and courts. Multilateral treaties usually generate more utility as the number of members increases, but they allow dissatisfied parties to opt-out of the regime. These and other key differences produce a unique, "broader-deeper" tradeoff that affects how states bargain strategically over the formation of multilateral treaties. As a result, existing models of how other political institutions bargain and develop policies do not satisfactorily explain large treaty formation. Using mechanism design, we show how states negotiating multilateral treaties adopt their positions, including to what extent they reveal private information about their preferred policies. Among other things, we find that states that strongly favor a treaty and those that strongly oppose it readily reveal their positions and expected values from the treaty; states that require small concessions to ratify and those that weakly support the status quo request their desired changes. The strategic logic of multilateral negotiations means that imitating another type risks triggering policy changes adverse to a state's true preferences. These findings lay the groundwork for a line of theoretical and empirical research on multilateral cooperation through international law.

Keywords: treaties, international bargaining, international law, international organizations

Suggested Citation

Morrow, James and Cope, Kevin L., The Limits of Information Revelation in Multilateral Negotiations: A Theory of Treatymaking (June 5, 2018). Virginia Public Law and Legal Theory Research Paper No. 2018-28; Virginia Law and Economics Research Paper No. 2018-07. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3170058

James Morrow

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - Department of Political Science ( email )

Ann Arbor, MI 48109
United States

Kevin L. Cope (Contact Author)

University of Virginia School of Law ( email )

580 Massie Road
WB302E
Charlottesville, VA 22903
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.kevinlcope.com

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