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Publications [#223293] of Judith Kelley

Journal Articles

  1. Judith Kelley and Jon Pevehouse, An Opportunity Cost Theory of Treaty Ratification, International Studies Quarterly (forthcoming)
    (last updated on 2014/03/23)

    It is a striking feature of multilateral cooperation that although the United States often leads in the creation of treaties, it sometimes never joins those treaties or does so only after considerable delay. Most international relations theory expects states to join treaties as long as the benefits outweigh the costs. Domestic theories modify this with the constraints of institutional veto players. Yet, sometimes neither of these arguments explains the delay or absence of US participation. This paper supplements these explanations with an opportunity cost theory that argues that the advice and consent process sometimes slows or stalls because it imposes costs in terms of legislative time and political capital that politicians prefer to spend on other priorities. These costs alter the calculus of key players and may obstruct or delay the process, sometimes leading the President and Senators to deprioritize treaties despite their interests in their success. Statistical analysis of the stages of the treaty process supports the argument. The priority the Senate and President give to treaties depends not only on the value they assign to the treaty, but also on the value of other possible policy achievements. Presidents are less, not more likely to transmit treaties to the Senate the more support he has in Congress. Furthermore, the more support the President has in Congress, the more the cost of Senate floor time matters for advice and consent.

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