World Politics

Research Article

Information Systems in Treaty Regimes

Xinyuan Daia1*

a1 University of Illinois

One of the most influential arguments in international relations is that international institutions influence states' behavior by monitoring their compliance with treaties, which in turn facilitates reciprocity. Empirically, however, many treaty organizations are not mandated to monitor compliance. The article develops a parsimonious theoretical framework to address the empirical diversity of monitoring arrangements. By mapping strategic environments onto monitoring arrangements, it accounts for who detects noncompliance and who brings it to light. In particular, two factors—the interest alignment between noncompliance victims and their states and the availability of noncompliance victims as low-cost monitors—largely shape the organizational forms of information systems. This simple theory sheds light on a wide range of substantiveh/important treaty regimes.

Xinyuan Dai is an assistant professor of political science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is currently working on two projects: one on compliance with international agreements and the other on the effects of democratic institutions on foreign policy.

* I thank Damon Coletta, Paul Diehl, Daniel Drezner, James Fearon, Robert Keohane, Charles Lipson, Sharon Morris, Charles Myers, Robert Pahre, Michel Regenwetter, Duncan Snidal, and the anonymous reviewers for their very helpful comments on previous drafts, as well as Douglas Stinnet for excellent editorial assistance. Financial support from the MacArthur Foundation and the U.S. Institute of Peace is gratefully acknowledged.