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Why Do States Join Some Universal Treaties but Not Others? An Analysis of Treaty Commitment Preferences

Journal of Conflict Resolution

Published online on


Preferences are crucial to the analysis of many key questions regarding international institutions. This article analyzes the key predictors of states’ preferences over universal treaties. It does so by using a spatial-modeling approach that conceptualizes a treaty commitment preference space that includes agreements across multiple policy areas. I analyze the treaty commitment preference space in order to better understand the key dimensions of these preferences. I find that economics, and particularly trade, is the clearest and most consistent predictor of treaty commitment preferences, including with respect to many treaties in noneconomic policy areas.