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The Politics of Positive Incentives in Arms Control

Edited by Thomas Bernauer and Dieter Ruloff

Examines the effectiveness of material incentives in negotiating arms agreements

Side-payments, compensation, and other material incentives have been used throughout the history of international relations to influence the behavior of recipient countries and facilitate cooperation, but only in recent years have analysts of international politics started to amass systematic empirical evidence on the use of such incentives in fields as diverse as international trade, environmental policy, and arms control. Theorizing about the pros and cons of various incentive strategies lags even farther behind real-world developments.

The Politics of Positive Incentives in Arms Control poses the question whether or not it is sensible to "buy" cooperation from critical states and examines various recent cases of nuclear nonproliferation diplomacy, including experiences with Ukraine and North Korea. In exploring the conditions under which positive incentives are effective and efficient in resolving international collaboration problems, editors Thomas Bernauer and Dieter Ruloff along with contributors to the volume draw on a wide range of social science theories and results of empirical research. They define positive incentives as transfers of positively valued resources, such as money, technology, or know-how, from one actor to another with the aim of driving the behavior of the recipient in a direction that is desirable from the viewpoint of the provider.

To assess the validity of their propositions, the contributors examine seven explicit transactions in nuclear nonproliferation policy. They illuminate two of the transactions through detailed case studies: the freeze and eventual closure of North Korea's nuclear-weapons program in exchange for two light water reactors and oil deliveries and the denuclearization of Ukraine, which has involved sizeable resource transfers provided largely by the United States.

As arms-control issues continue to rank high on the international agenda, this timely volume shows that positive incentives can contribute to the resolution of global governance problems. The Politics of Positive Incentives in Arms Control demonstrates that under specific conditions positive incentives are indeed superior to threats and sanctions.

Thomas Bernauer is a professor of International Relations at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich. His previous publications include The Chemistry of Regime Formation.

Dieter Ruloff is a professor and the chair of international relations at the University of Zurich. His previous publications include East-West Relations and Handbook of Foreign Policy Analysis.

"Decisions to acquire, retain or eliminate weapons of mass destruction have profound effects on global security. This is a brilliant application of theories of externalities management to a critically important problem in security affairs. Bernauer, Ruloff and their associates offer important insights into Ukraineian, North Korea and other cases where compensation strategies have been used to address proliferation problems."—Kenneth A. Oye, MIT Center for International Studies and author of Economic Discrimination and Political Exchange



book jacket for Soliciting Cooperation from Critical States


6 x 9
224 pages
ISBN 978-1-57003-301-8
hardcover, $39.95s

Studies in International Relations

Thomas Bernauer
Stefan Brem
Jozef Goldblat
Dieter Ruloff
Amy E. Smithson
Roy Suter


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