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Delivering on Promises

The Domestic Politics of Compliance in International Courts

Delivering on Promises

The Domestic Politics of Compliance in International Courts

A timely investigation into the conditions that make international agreements—and the institutions that enforce them—vulnerable.

When do international institutions effectively promote economic cooperation among countries and help them resolve conflict? Although the international system lacks any central governing authority, states have created rules, particularly around international economic relations, and empowered international tribunals to enforce those rules. Just how successful are these institutions? In Delivering on Promises Lauren J. Peritz demonstrates that these international courts do indeed deliver results—but they are only effective under certain conditions. 

As Peritz shows, states are less likely to comply with international rules and international court decisions when domestic industries have the political ability to obstruct compliance in particular cases. The author evaluates the argument with an extensive empirical analysis that traces the domestic politics of compliance with the decisions of two international economic courts: the World Trade Organization’s dispute settlement mechanism and the Court of Justice of the European Union. At a time when international agreements are under attack, this book sheds light on the complex relationship between domestic politics and international economic cooperation, offering detailed evidence that international economic courts are effective at promoting interstate cooperation.

336 pages | 21 line drawings, 31 tables | 6 x 9 | © 2022

Chicago Series on International and Domestic Institutions

Political Science: Diplomacy, Foreign Policy, and International Relations


"As the trade regime struggles with trade wars and Europe confronts exit and rebellion among members, Peritz offers an insightful look at the politics of compliance. Careful analysis of legal rulings and policy reforms by the World Trade Organization and European Court of Justice reveals how domestic politics shapes outcomes. Both those who believe in the power of international law and those skeptical of its promises will find that the theory and evidence of this compelling new book offer fresh perspectives."

Christina Davis, Harvard University

“Peritz’s insightful and rigorous work provides both good and bad news for those who support the use of international courts to promote economic liberalization. She shows, through the examination of both policy and economic outcomes, that reluctant governments often do change policies in the face of adverse decisions from the WTO or the ECJ. However, she also shows that these policy changes are at times blocked by domestic veto players, who are able to lock in favored policies that violate international commitments. Her work provides additional understanding of the backlash against legalization, and provides concrete suggestions for a path forwards.”

Lisa Martin, University of Wisconsin-Madison

“International economic integration is increasingly on the ropes. How do domestic politics and international courts impose limits on international cooperation? On that question, Peritz’s Delivering on Promises delivers.”

Chad P. Bown, Peterson Institute for International Economics

“At a time when international institutions are under siege, Delivering on Promises provides compelling new evidence that they matter. Through careful empirical analysis, Peritz demonstrates that international courts can induce governments to follow even rules they clearly wish to break. How successfully they do this, however, depends on systematic and observable features of domestic politics. Engaging and meticulously researched, Delivering on Promises sheds new light on how domestic and international pressures interact to shape the rules of the global political economy.”

Daniel Yuichi Kono, University of California, Davis

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 International Adjudication, Stakeholders, and Domestic Divisions
Chapter 2 A Theory of International Courts, Compliance, and Domestic Veto Players
Chapter 3 The Design and Operation of Two International Courts
Chapter 4 Policy Compliance in WTO Disputes
Chapter 5 Trade Cooperation in WTO Disputes
Chapter 6 The ECJ and Domestic Constraints on the Single Market
Chapter 7 Reshaping International Economic Courts
A1 Appendix for Chapter 4
A2 Appendix for Chapter 5
A3 Appendix for Chapter 6

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