14 June 2018

Are weaker agreements more widely accepted?


Ratification of treaties by states is an important step towards domestic compliance to international norms. But are countries less likely to ratify agreements that are more demanding?

On Wednesday 6 June 2018 Wayne Sandholtz, Professor of International Relations and Law at the University of Southern California, presented on the topic “Human Rights Treaty Obligations and State Commitment” at the spring academic semester’s concluding Global Governance Colloquium.

James Hollway, Assistant Professor of International Relations/Political Science and Advisory Faculty member of the Global Governance Centre, served as discussant for the engaging presentation.

Prof. Sandholtz argued that certain design elements of human rights treaties affect adoption and compliance costs for states, which play a role in whether and how long it takes different states to ratify a given treaty. As the reasoning goes, the more demanding a treaty is, the less likely it will be ratified by states, and vice versa.

The research contributes to International Relations scholarship, which typically approaches treaty law by prioritizing studies of commitment, compliance, and states’ characteristics, rather than the substance of treaties themselves.

The work also enriches ongoing debates about how to design more effective international agreements, so as to balance the depth of obligations and the breadth of state participation.

Global Governance Colloquium Series

The Global Governance Colloquium series aims to build a denser research community by providing scholars of governance issues a platform to present and discuss works in progress across disciplinary boundaries. The colloquia take place biweekly on Mondays over lunchtime.

For a list of past and current events in this series, consult our Events page.