Foreign aid and the effectiveness of international counter-terrorism conventions
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In the contemporary international system, non-state actors pose an acute threat to the interests of states. Transnational terrorism is a particularly notable example of the security threats that non-state actors pose. While the literature on international agreements has focused on state-level compliance, much of international law concerns the behavior of non-state entities such as terrorist groups, transnational crime organizations, corporations, and individuals. This study considers whether the international counter-terrorism regime developed over the past five decades has been effective at reducing transnational terrorism and consider the implications for the study of other instruments of international law which regard non-state actor behavior. Because these agreements establish clear benchmarks, they provide observable outcomes for donors that may want to give foreign aid, but are uncertain about whether aid recipients will use aid for its intended purpose. Agreements allow donors to condition aid allocation on benchmarks set by treaties, rather than observed levels of non-state behavior alone, increasing donor-recipient trust and capacity building aid flows. I find that countries ratifying counter-terrorism agreements see a significant increase in foreign aid receipts. I then assess the effectiveness of eight UN counter-terrorism conventions individually, using terrorism data germane to the type of terrorist activity the specific agreement attempts to curtail. I find support for the hypothesis that counter-terrorism agreements reduce transnational terrorism for five of the agreements in issue areas of terrorist bombing, kidnapping, hostage-taking, and financing. I conclude by discussing how the variation in effectiveness of counter-terrorism agreements found may help shed light on the design of effective international agreements when the locus of compliance is non-state actors and treaty design more generally.