Bargaining power at the negotiation table and beyond

Shaina Western

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


International treaties require ratification to go into effect. But while some treaties have high ratification rates, many are do not, leading to a system where issues appear to be addressed on paper but are not in practice. This article seeks to address why treaties receive varying levels of support and finds that factors present during the negotiation phase of the agreement affect the ratification phase. Specifically, bargaining power at, and away from, the negotiation table influences both the substantive nature of the treaty and the extent to which it will be widely ratifiable. This article explores this issue both in a statistical analysis and in two pairs of qualitative case studies. The evidence indicates that negotiation processes cast a long shadow on the fate of international agreements leading to the current treaty system of prolific international law that is not ratified by most states.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)169-200
JournalInternational Negotiation
Issue number2
Early online date30 Apr 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 30 Apr 2020


  • treaty ratification
  • bargaining power
  • small-states
  • mixed-methods


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