The Politics of Treaty Signature: The Role of Diplomats and Ties that Bind

In: International Negotiation

Abstract

The literature on international cooperation through legal commitments focuses chiefly on treaty ratification. What has received much less attention is that before states ratify treaties, they commit to treaties through the act of signature. This article addresses this research gap by investigating how a state’s decision to sign a treaty is affected by its diplomatic representation during treaty negotiations. Conceptualizing signature as a commitment step, we argue that participation in treaty negotiations translates into a “ties-that-bind” effect creating incentives for diplomats to support the treaty text leading to treaty signature. Our empirical analysis uses a new data set on signature and tests the argument for 52 multilateral treaties concluded between 1990 and 2005. Results confirm that participation in treaty making matters for signature but not necessarily for ratification.

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