Political corruption is rampant in—and destructive to—many parts of the world. A growing number of international organizations (IOs) claim to address the problem by encouraging good governance norms and rules, such as anti-corruption standards and practices. Whether membership in IOs dampens corruption, however, is unclear. Our central argument is that the characteristics of IO membership determine both whether corruption is tolerated and the extent to which formal anti-corruption rules effectively combat the problem. First, groups of corrupt states are reticent to enforce good governance norms or rules against other IO members, rendering punishment for corruption incredible. Second, leaders may witness the value of corruption to their IO peers and learn to act the same way. Using a variety of data sources and estimation strategies, including new data on IO anti-corruption mandates, we demonstrate that: (1) countries that participate in member-corrupted IOs are significantly more likely to engage in corruption themselves—and experience an increase in corruption over time—than are countries that participate in less corrupt IOs; and (2) this tolerance for corruption occurs even within IOs that have adopted formal anti-corruption mandates, rendering good governance rules largely cheap talk among organizations governed by corrupt principles.
AbstractThis article introduces a Thematic Section and theorizes the multiple ways that judicializing international relations shifts power away from national executives and legislatures toward litigants, judges, arbitrators, and other nonstate decision-makers. We identify two preconditions for judicialization to occur—(1) delegation to an adjudicatory body charged with applying designated legal rules, and (2) legal rights-claiming by actors who bring—or threaten to bring—a complaint to one or more of these bodies. We classify the adjudicatory bodies that do and do not contribute to judicializing international relations, including but not limited to international courts. We then explain how rights-claiming initiates a process for authoritatively determining past violations of the law, identifying remedies for those violations, and preventing future violations. Because judicializing international relations occurs in multiple phases, in multiple locations, and involves multiple actors as decision-makers, governments often do not control the timing, nature, or extent to which political and policy decisions are adjudicated. Delegation—and the associated choice of institutional design features—is thus only the first step in a chain of processes that determine how a diverse array of nonstate actors influence politically consequential decisions.
A growing number of developed country governments link good governance, including human rights, to developing countries' access to aid, trade, and investment. We consider whether governments enforce these conditions sincerely, in response to rights violations, or whether such conditions might instead be used as a veil for protectionist policies, motivated by domestic concerns about import competition. We do so via an examination of the world's most important unilateral trade preference program, the US Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), which includes worker rights as one criterion for program access. We argue that the two-tiered structure of the GSP privileges some domestic interests at one level, while disadvantaging them at the other. Using a new data set on all US GSP beneficiary countries and sanctioning measures from 1986 to 2013, we demonstrate that labor rights outcomes play a role in the maintenance of country-level trade benefits and that import competition does not condition the application of rights-based criteria at this level. At the same, however, the US government does not consider worker rights in the elements (at the country-product level) of the program that have the greatest material impact. The result is a situation in which the US government talks somewhat sincerely at the country level in its rights-based conditionality, but its behavior at the country-product level cheapens this talk.
It is often assumed that government-sponsored election violence increases the probability that incumbent leaders remain in power. Using cross-national data, this article shows that election violence increases the probability of incumbent victory, but can generate risky post-election dynamics. These differences in the consequences of election violence reflect changes in the strategic setting over the course of the election cycle. In the pre-election period, anti-incumbent collective action tends to be focused on the election itself, either through voter mobilization or opposition-organized election boycotts. In the post-election period, by contrast, when a favorable electoral outcome is no longer a possibility, anti-government collective action more often takes the form of mass political protest, which in turn can lead to costly repercussions for incumbent leaders.