Rational choice theory is the dominant paradigm through which scholars of international law and international relations approach treaty design. In this Article, I challenge this paradigm using a combination of empirical observations of state behavior and theoretical insights from behavioral economics. I focus on one aspect of multilateral treaty design: namely, treaty reservations and associated legal mechanisms which allow states to vary the degree of their formal commitments to treaties. I call these mechanisms “treaty options”. I argue that framing matters powerfully for treaty options – and does so in ways inconsistent with rational choice theory but consistent with insights from behavioral economics. This finding has important implications for the theory, law, and practice of treaty-making and for our understandings of state behavior more generally.
Thursday, October 11, 2012
Galbraith: Treaty Options: Towards a Behavioral Understanding of Treaty Design
Jean Galbraith (Rutgers Univ., Camden - Law) has posted Treaty Options: Towards a Behavioral Understanding of Treaty Design (Virginia Journal of International Law, forthcoming). Here's the abstract: