American Economic Review: Vol. 96 No. 4 (September 2006)


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Self-Enforcing Voting in International Organizations

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Maggi, Giovanni, and Massimo Morelli. 2006. "Self-Enforcing Voting in International Organizations." American Economic Review, 96(4): 1137-1158.

DOI: 10.1257/aer.96.4.1137


Some international organizations are governed by unanimity rule, others by (simple or qualified) majority rules. Standard voting models, which assume that the decisions made by voting are perfectly enforceable, have a hard time explaining the observed variation in governance mode, and in particular the widespread occurrence of the unanimity system. We present a model whose main departure from standard voting models is that the organization cannot rely on external enforcement mechanisms: each country is sovereign and cannot be forced to comply with the collective decision or, in other words, the voting system must be self-enforcing. The model identifies conditions under which the organization adopts the unanimity rule, and yields rich comparative-statics predictions on the determinants of the mode of governance. (JEL D72, F53)

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Maggi, Giovanni
Morelli, Massimo

American Economic Review

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