The Hidden Bias of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties

George Mason Law & Economics Research Paper No. 03-20

Review of Law and Economics, Forthcoming

24 Pages Posted: 29 Apr 2003 Last revised: 8 Sep 2008

Vincy Fon

George Washington University - Department of Economics

Francesco Parisi

University of Minnesota - Law School; University of Bologna

Abstract

The process of treaty formation and reservations to multilateral treaties, enshrined in Articles 19-21 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, establishes the principle that reservations are reciprocal. The treaty will be in force between a reserving state and a non-reserving state as amended by the reservation. Therefore if a state wants to exempt itself from a treaty obligation, it must let other nations escape that same burden. This paper presents an economic model of treaty formation and considers the effect of reciprocity on treaty ratifications among heterogeneous states. The economic model further reveals a hidden bias of the Vienna Convention. In spite of the apparent neutrality of the reciprocity principle governing the effect of reservations, the Vienna Convention creates a systematic disadvantage for states that have a comparative advantage in cooperation.

Keywords: treaties, reservations, ratification, accession, Vienna Convention

JEL Classification: K10, K33, D70

Suggested Citation

Fon, Vincy and Parisi, Francesco, The Hidden Bias of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties. Review of Law and Economics, Forthcoming; Review of Law and Economics, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=399981 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.399981

Vincy Fon (Contact Author)

George Washington University - Department of Economics ( email )

2115 G Street, N.W.
Monroe Hall, #366
Washington, DC 20052
United States
202-994-7580 (Phone)
202-994-6147 (Fax)

Francesco Parisi

University of Minnesota - Law School ( email )

229 19th Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55455
United States

University of Bologna ( email )

Piazza Scaravilli 1
40126 Bologna, fc 47100
Italy

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