What role do Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa (BRICS) play in the global investment regime and what policies do they espouse? How can we account for similarities among and differences across these countries with respect to their approach to international investment agreements (IIAs) and investment arbitration? What are their implications for the future of this regime? This study addresses these questions by situating emerging market economies in the persistent North-South divide, that is endemic to the global politics of foreign direct investment (FDI). Surveying the policies of the five countries since the 1980s, it shows that all were initially motivated to provide foreign investors with protection against political risk in order to attract FDI. As their own position in the global economy has changed and the rules of the regime itself have evolved, the investment policies of the BRICS countries have transformed, albeit in distinct ways. China and, to a lesser extent, Russia appear broadly content with the current state of affairs. Brazil, India, and South Africa, on the other hand, seem to object to current rules, which they view as overly protective of foreign investors at the expense of host state regulatory space. I argue and show that two factors – the amount of FDI outflows and regime type – usefully account for the observed variation across BRICS' international investment policies, but that more research is needed to fully understand this matter. Regardless its sources, the diversity between the BRICS countries suggests that the prospects of them shaping the rules of the global investment regime, either individually or collectively, are rather bleak.
Criticism of the effects of the international investment regime on state regulatory space (SRS) is on the rise, much of it focusing on the impact of binding arbitration. Specifically, the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) provisions found in most bilateral investment treaties (BITs) and other investment agreements have a profound effect on the balance between investor rights and state regulatory space (SRS), raising a debate on their legitimacy. We explore how states perceive the legitimacy of ISDS provisions in light of their experiences with the investment regime through the lens of BIT renegotiation and termination. Renegotiation provides an empirical window for understanding how dissatisfaction with BITs translates into concrete decisions by governments to recalibrate their treaty obligations, perhaps rendering them more legitimate. Based on an original data set comprised of 161 renegotiated agreements, we find that states have not made a systematic effort over the years to recalibrate their BITs for the purpose of preserving more regulatory space. In fact, most renegotiations either leave ISDS provisions unchanged or render them more investor-friendly. However, recent renegotiations show a greater tendency to limit investor protections in ISDS provisions.
Given that their main function is to forge durable commitments, it is notable that many international treaties change over time through the practice of renegotiation. While some agreements have remained intact after their initial conclusion, others are amended, updated, or replaced. Why are some international agreements renegotiated while others remain stable? This paper offers a systematic analysis of treaty renegotiation by presenting theoretical propositions and testing them in the context of bilateral investment treaties (BITs). We argue that states renegotiate when they learn new information about the legal and political consequences of their treaty commitments, and that such learning is most likely to take place when states are involved in investor-state dispute settlement cases. Employing an original data set on renegotiated BITs, we find robust empirical support for the learning argument. We conclude by discussing implications for the study of institutional change and the evolving investment regime.
The design of current regional economic organizations (REOs) is remarkably diverse. Some REOs address numerous economic issues, while others have only limited mandates. Some REOs have an independent bureaucracy and a legalized dispute settlement mechanism (DSM), while others do not. What determines this institutional variation? Thinking about these institutions as devices that generate credible commitment to a rule-based regional cooperation, institutionalists maintain that the intensity of commercial ties determine regional institutionalization and institutional independence. A number of studies question this logic and argue that it is “naïve.” Empirical evidence on the links between commerce, economic scope, and regional institutions is scant, however. Using an original data set that contains detailed information on the economic activities and institutional structure of twenty-eight REOs over three decades, this paper presents one of the first systematic analyses of these relationships. The empirical analysis indicates that the institutionalist wisdom is right after all. It shows that higher levels of regional trade are associated with greater institutionalization and economic scope, but only if implementation of signed agreements is accounted for, and that regional commerce and greater economic scope are associated with more independent bureaucracies and more legalized DSMs.
Some treaties are signed and then ratified quickly while others languish in legal limbo, unratified by one or more parties. What explains this variation in the time between signature and ratification? The international relations literature has not taken the ratification stage seriously enough, despite its obvious importance from a legal and a political perspective. We offer a systematic study of this question in the context of bilateral investment treaties. We develop and test a set of theoretical propositions related to domestic-level constraints on the executive, the varying ability of governments to rationally anticipate ratification obstacles, and the bilateral relationship between treaty partners. We generally find support for these propositions but report some surprising findings as well. The article presents implications for investment agreements and treaty making more generally, and raises a number of issues for further study at the intersection of international politics and law.
In addition to the explicit goal of advancing mutual economic interests, regional economic organizations (REOs) are intended to foster regional cohesion and peace. Drawing on a data set detailing the institutional features of 25 REOs established during the 1980s and 1990s, complemented by a case study of ASEAN, I investigate the factors that affect REOs' ability to mitigate interstate military conflict. I find fewer interstate conflicts among REO members who have developed high levels of economic integration and who cultivate regular interaction among member-states' representatives. The book concludes that, with an appropriate institutional design and fully implemented agreements, an REO can indeed play a role in mitigating interstate conflict and make a meaningful contribution to regional peace.
Despite seemingly little prospects and meager results, many developing countries invest substantial resources in regional cooperation organizations. Considering the widespread skepticism regarding the benefits of these organizations, this enthusiasm is puzzling. This study offers an answer to this puzzle and argues that under certain conditions international organizations among developing countries function as a signal of regional peace and stability. In turn, they reduce the political risk associated with foreign investment and increase the inflow of much needed capital to the economies of their members. I evaluate this argument in the context of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). I show that Indonesia forcefully promoted the formation of ASEAN and that Indonesian foreign policymakers believed that joining this organization will reverse its aggressive and irresponsible image in the eyes of international donors and investors. Evidence regarding political risk and foreign direct investment in Indonesia and other ASEAN members provide additional support for the argument.
The proliferation of North–South bilateral investment treaties (BITs), which provide investors with favorable treatment and legal protections, is one of the most remarkable trends of the contemporary global economy. Presumably, developing countries conclude these agreements in order to attract much-needed capital to their economies. Although the positive effect of BITs on foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows may seem straightforward, the findings produced by extant research are mixed. This article advances the study of the relationship between BITs and FDI in two manners. First, it draws attention to the often underappreciated distinction between signed and mutually-ratified treaties. It argues that only BITs in force function as a costly signal of pro-investment climate and a credible commitment to the protection of FDI. Second, it employs a comprehensive data set on American investment in developing countries to empirically evaluate the effect of BITs on FDI inflows. Employing a variety of model specifications and accounting for potential endogeneity, the findings indicate that BITs have the expected positive effect on FDI inflows, but only to the extent that they are in force.
Does institutional variation have implications for questions of conflict and peace? Theory indicates that it does, but extant studies that address this question treat such institutions as homogenous. Building on recent theoretical advances, I argue that cooperation on a wide array of economic issues and regular meetings of high-level officials provide member-states with valuable information regarding the interests and resolve of their counterparts. This, in turn, reduces uncertainty and improves the prospects of a peaceful resolution of interstate disputes. To test the effect of these two institutional features on the level of militarized interstate disputes (MIDs), I present an original data set that measures variation in institutional design and implementation across a large number of regional integration arrangements (RIAs) in the 1980s and 1990s. Employing multivariate regression techniques and the regional unit of analysis, I find that a wider scope of economic activity and regular meetings among high-level officials mitigate violent conflict. These results remain intact after controlling for alternative explanations and addressing concerns of endogeneity
Despite its widespread use in studies of domestic political institutions, the concept of “independence” has not been systematically applied to the study of international institutions. Most arguments regarding the ability of international organizations (IOs) to promote cooperation and mitigate conflict rely on the implicit assumption that such institutions possess some independence from states, and yet the field has failed to conceptualize—let alone measure—this institutional characteristic. Extracting insights from the theoretical literatures on both international and domestic institutions, the authors distill several design features that lend independence to political institutions and then generate coding rules for measuring the independence of IOs. Based on an original data set of regional integration arrangements, the authors then use regression analysis to test several propositions for explaining variation in IO independence, shedding light on some important theoretical and empirical puzzles in international relations.
Proponents of offense-defense theory (ODT) contend that the offense-defense balance (ODB) forms the “master key” to understanding the question of peace and war. Time-series event count models of war and militarized interstate disputes at the systemic level are used to test the theory’s claims that shifts in the ODB have an important effect on the likelihood of internationalwar and militarized disputes and thatODToffers a more powerful explanation for conflict than other explanations in the international relations (IR) literature. Results cast doubt on the empirical validity of the ODT and indicate that other IR theories have important explanatory power.
This article addresses the issue of how international relations theories and experts do at forecasting Israeli–Palestinian relations. A group of academics who study the Middle East were brought together to set forth their logic and arguments concerning possible future scenarios of Israeli–Palestinian relations. The article reports on a ‘rule-based’ computational model built upon the reasoning of these experts. Sensitivity analysis of the model is summarized, and four empirical tests of the model are reported. Relations between Middle East states, externally generated existential threats to Israel, and domestic structural factors such as coalition politics in Israel emerge as driving forces in the sensitivity analysis. Further examination shows that the model is in theoretical harmony with scholars who have employed two-level games and has some similarity to realist explanations and frameworks emphasizing public opinion. Model tests reveal relatively solid results: comparisons with other forecasts generally favor this model, while both the cases of the Labor Party coming to power in Israel and a change in Jordanian behavior after the death of King Hussein lend further support to the model presented here. Finally, when the scholars who served as the expert group to produce these forecasts were asked to reflect back on the process, they exhibited the same rationalizations that have been found in other expertbased forecasts, even though the results of the forecasts were more favorable than many such forecasts.
The increasing number and expansion of trading blocs is an important dimension of the contemporary international economy. This study examines the effects of such trading blocs on third parties and on the multilateral trading system. It is argued that trading blocs have negative economic effects on economic sectors in non-members' states. These sectors urge their governments to take political action vis-à-vis the trading bloc. Governments have several policy choices on their menu, and the attractiveness of these policies is determined by domestic and international incentives and constraints. I argue that filing a complaint in the GATT/WTO is an attractive and effective policy tool in the hands of third parties' governments. Thus, I hypothesize that the existence, deepening, and widening of trading blocs result in an increase in the number of complaints filed against their members in the multilateral trading system. I examine these propositions in the context of three important trading blocs—namely, the EU, NAFTA, and Mercosur—in the period 1948–2000. To test these hypotheses a time-series cross-section count model is performed. Controlling for conventional alternative explanations, the empirical analysis supports the theoretical framework.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, signed in February of 2016, is an ambitious effort to set high standards on a ‘mega-regional’ level. This paper examines the TPP’s investment provisions with a focus on their most controversial dimension: the extent to which they constrain the ‘state regulatory space’ (SRS) of host states. We embrace the text-as-data approach by coding the TPP and other investment agreements among TPP parties on designed features related to SRS. The challenges presented by this coding exercise demonstrate some of the advantages of manual coding over automated methods when nuance and interpretation are required. With our data, we first compare the TPP to other agreements and find that it scores relatively high on SRS, although it falls within the range of existing agreements and does not seem to chart new territory in this regard. We then investigate which existing agreements are most similar to and dissimilar from the TPP with respect to SRS. Using regression analysis, we consider a number of factors to explain this variation and find that the TPP is most similar to agreements involving the United States, to agreements among Western Hemispheric countries, to other free trade agreements with investment chapters, and to more recent agreements. However, different factors seem to matter if we look only at provisions related to investor-state dispute settlement versus substantive provisions, implying that it is important to distinguish between the substantive and procedural dimensions of treaties.
The proliferation of regional economic organizations (REOs) is a prominent feature of the contemporary international environment. Many of these organizations aspire to promote regional peace and stability. Some strive to promote these goals only through economic cooperation, while others have expanded their mandate to include mechanisms that address security concerns more directly. A glance at the security components of such organizations indicates that their purpose and design are very diverse. This article sheds light on the sources of this poorly understood phenomenon. Specifically, it argues that organizations that enjoy greater delegated authority are in a better position to expand their mandate into the security realm and to have more far-reaching agreements in this issue area. It then develops a metric that gauges the degree of security cooperation within REOs and presents a new dataset of numerous organizations on this institutional aspect. Employing this dataset in a rigorous statistical analysis and controlling for a host of alternative explanations, it demonstrates that, indeed, REOs with greater delegated authority develop deeper security cooperation.