International Organization


Domestic institutions and the credibility of international commitment: Japan and the United States

Peter F. Cowheya1

a1 Professor of Political Science and International Relations at the University of California, San Diego.


The domestic politics of great powers significantly influence the fate of such multilateral regimes at the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Unless great powers can make credible commitments to support those regimes, few countries will offer more than token support. Domestic political constraints may bind national leaders to good faith adherence to multilateral regimes even if international circumstances do not compel adherence. Domestic politics also influence the ability of other countries to monitor national adherence to agreements. Case studies of U.S. and Japanese responses to multilateral regimes show how the nature of the national electoral system, the division of powers in the government, and the transparency of the national political system influence credibility and lead to special features of multilateral economic and security regimes.