Various literatures have been developed by scholars to identify the correlation between democratic institutions in various countries and the compliance levels to international agreements and treaties. Importantly, scholars have come with different stand points with some affirming the correlation and others finding no correlation at all. This article is considered one of its kind as it seeks to provide a more knowledgeable stand point that incorporates empirical findings of scholars with different conclusions. To achieve its intended purpose Xinyuan Dai, the author, develops an impeccable game-theoretic model that highlights in completeness the conditional effects of democracy on compliance to international treaties and agreements. The two important variables the author uses to give clarity are the consequences of compliance to domestic interests and political undertones such as electoral leverage and informational capacity of interest groups.
One central question that Xinyuan Dai seeks to tackle is the reason why countries seeks to comply with international agreements. Actually, this question solves many technicalities that have been envisaged in the works of other scholars. It is to be realized in all directions that international agreements are seen in the context of benefits to domestic constituents of a country. The author therefore explains compliance to international agreements in terms of benefits of such agreements to a country’s sub-national players such as special interest groups. This means that, compliance to international treaties has a lot of bearing to activities of special interest groups such as lawyers or judges of a countries national courts.
This articles as well as other scholarly works affirm that there is a correlation between democratic institutions and compliance to international agreements and treaties. However, the article goes much deeper to incorporate what other earlier scholars omitted. For instance, on top of domestic distributional effects on compliance, the article further interrogates international effects that many preceding works seems to have not been privy to. The article particularly looks at the variance of compliance across countries and the competing factors that usually affect such compliance.
One aspect that the article brings more clear is the fact that domestic interests form the centre stage in compliance to international agreements. Such domestic interests are seen in terms of international and domestic consequences. On an international front, such compliance must be seen in terms of rewards and reciprocity that are associated with compliance. For instance, a nation that complies to international trade agreements is likely to enjoy low tariffs on exported goods to countries under the same agreement.
In light of reciprocity and rewards that accompany international compliance to agreements, the article through its theory seeks to prove that such benefits vary across interest groups. As such, the domestic groups affected with a particular agreement will seek to influence the government’s policy on compliance in their own favour. One important aspect of varying interests on a particular policy is the fact that such interests are informed differently across groups. This is due to the fact that domestic groups rarely give a hundred percent concentration on government policy processes but rather concentrates more on their social welfare which highly depends on government efforts and other probabilistic factors. The article explicitly makes it clear that both interest groups needs to make a clear differentiation on whether the outcome they experience is due to government’s compliance to international treaties or are as a result of other exogenous attributes.
Political institutions form an important segment of compliance to international agreements. They fundamentally form the link between domestic interests and the government hence having a bearing in compliance. One aspect of political institution that has a serious bearing in this context is the electoral institution which fundamentally keeps the elected policy makers on toes. Generally, electoral institutions varies, with those in democratic institutions having higher effects on compliance than those in autocratic governments. In conclusion, Xinyuan Dai has given a more elaborate approach that incorporates various strands. This makes this article more complete than other related works on the same.