Date: 21 Sep 2013

Does participation in international organizations increase cooperation?

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Abstract

Recent research asserts that public commitments to international institutions promote behavior that is consistent with institutional purposes. Evidence for this proposition is based almost entirely on studies that compare the behavior of states that have and have not ratified treaties. This paper evaluates instances in which some member states temporarily experience increased entanglement with an IO because they or their nationals serve in a position of authority. Unlike selection into IOs, selection into positions of authority is often governed by a common, observable, and partially exogenous process. I exploit exogenous exit, random assignment to different term lengths, and competitive elections in three contexts: the International Criminal Court (ICC), the UN Human Rights Commission (UNHRC), and the UN Security Council (UNSC). The evidence implicates that acquiring a position of authority can make states more willing to reject U.S. advances to sign non-surrender agreements, adopt domestic legislation that changes the penal code (ICC case), ratify legally binding treaties (UNHRC case), and contribute to peacekeeping missions (UNSC case). On the other hand, there is no evidence that UN institutions successfully select more cooperative states for positions of authority. Similar research designs can gainfully be employed to identify the causal effects of other forms of institutional participation.