Thursday, August 5, 2010

International Institution and National Policies

Cambridge University Press, 2007 - 187 Pages

The proliferation of international institutions and their impact has become a central issue in international relations. Why do countries comply with international agreements and how do international institutions influence national policies? Most theories focus on the extent to which international institutions can wield 'carrots and sticks' directly in their relations with states. Xinyuan Dai presents an alternative framework in which they influence national policies indirectly by utilizing non-state actors (NGOs, social movements) and empowering domestic constituencies. In this way, even weak international institutions that lack 'carrots and sticks' may have powerful effects on states. Supported by empirical studies of environmental politics, human rights and economic and security issues, this book sheds fresh light on how and why international institutions matter. It will be of interest to students, scholars and policymakers in both international relations and international law.
I'm a fan. The empirical evidence in each chapter could be much stronger and one could argue with Dai's theoretical interpretations (I still need to be convinced that the chapter about weak institutions is logical), but I find myself coming back to this book again and again as one with thought-provoking concepts. Her chapter on the shape of monitoring mechanisms is convincing, and she accomplishes her objective of bringing domestic politics very explicitly into explanations of state action in upholding international agreements (or not).  Meredith - Goodreads

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