International Vote Buying

This Article examines the widely practiced—and widely ignored—phenomenon of “international vote buying” among states, that is, conduct whereby states offer material benefits to other states in exchange for their votes or decisions in international institutions. Domestically, such behavior would be patently illegal as bribery or election fraud. Yet under international law, it is both legal and relatively routine. Should this be so? Is vote buying corruption, or an acceptable feature of international relations? Scant attention has been devoted to these questions; this Article therefore represents a modest attempt to fill that void. Building on insights from the domestic sphere, this Article presents a new normative framework for assessing international vote buying. In so doing, it aims to foster debate about this important and underappreciated phenomenon, as well as to reassess our intuitions about the nature of international decisionmaking.

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