The Economics of Treaty Ratification

21 Pages Posted: 21 Feb 2006 Last revised: 8 Sep 2008

See all articles by Vincy Fon

Vincy Fon

George Washington University - Department of Economics

Francesco Parisi

University of Minnesota - Law School; University of Bologna

Date Written: February 21, 2006


In this paper we study the strengths and weaknesses of the matching-reservations mechanism introduced by Article 21 of the Vienna Convention. When states face asymmetric incentives, the rules introduced by the Vienna Convention may not discourage all reservations. We also analyze the welfare properties of the matching-reservations outcomes generated by Article 21 when such asymmetric incentives are at work. We show that Article 21 provides quite an effective solution to the prisoner's dilemma problem, but does not always induce socially optimal levels of ratification. A social optimum will be achieved under Article 21 only in the limited subset of cases where signatory states have homogeneous payoff functions, or when all states prefer full ratification, despite the differences in the incentives that they face.

Keywords: Reservations, Treaty ratification, Vienna Convention

JEL Classification: D70, K10, K33

Suggested Citation

Fon, Vincy and Parisi, Francesco, The Economics of Treaty Ratification (February 21, 2006). George Mason Law & Economics Research Paper No. 06-02, Journal of Law, Economics and Policy, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN:

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

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics