, Volume 17, Issue 4-5, pp 459-475

Explaining Compliance with G8 Finance Commitments: Agency, Institutionalization and Structure

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Do the world’s major powers keep the international commitments they make? To provide an answer, this study constructs and tests a multilevel model of the course and causes of member country’s compliance with the finance commitments they make at the Group of Eight (G8) major democracies’ annual summit. It first examines how G8 leaders deliberatively craft their commitments in ways that embed “compliance catalysts” designed to improve the chances that their commitments will be complied with during the following year. It then explores how the work of the G8’s ministerial institution for finance improves the compliance the leaders’ commitments receive. It finally assesses the distribution of vulnerability and capability in the international system to determine if agency and institutions act autonomously, or are predetermined or overwhelmed by system structure in causing G8 “promises made” to become G8 “promises kept”. The analysis concludes that G8 agency and institutionalization matter, while system structure has only an indirect impact. When leaders at their summit embed their finance commitment with a specific timetable to be met, and with a priority placement in their declaration, greater compliance comes. When their G7/8 finance ministers remember and repeat the same commitment in the year before and in the year after the summit, compliance rises as well. A combination of increasingly equal vulnerability and capability among the G8 members inspires finance ministers to remember and repeat such commitments, but does not directly increase compliance. Thus compliance is largely endogenous to the G8, driven by agency and institutionalization, and not directly by structural forces in the wider world. The G8 remains a leader’s summit after all.

JEL Classification Numbers: F33, F42, F53