This work studies the dynamics of international, multilateral, legal negotiations. It seeks to understand how the participants in a multilateral negotiation on a new international law instrument actually behave and why they do so. To this end, it provides a rich historical narrative of the negotiation of four United Nations counter-terrorism treaties: the 1997 International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings, the 1999 International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism, the 2005 International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism, and the draft United Nations Comprehensive Convention against Terrorism, which, to date, has not been adopted. It highlights the exchange of proposals and counterproposals, the preparation of consolidated negotiating texts, the formation of coalitions, and the various readings necessary to elaborate the delicate legal formulations that were incorporated into the final text of each counter-terrorism treaty. As an analytical framework, this work proposes a simple rational-choice model of the negotiations to reveal the options available to the participants at each point of the negotiation and the incentives that they might have had to choose one alternative or another. The research concludes that the negotiation process is dominated by two overlapping dynamics. At the level of the whole negotiation, the process is characterized by the disaggregating and re-aggregating of issues, whereby the proposed legal instrument is gradually divided into smaller segments, which are then discussed in gradually smaller negotiating groups. At the level of each individual issue being negotiated, the process is dominated by the actors' continuous reassessment of the possibilities for success of their proposal in order to make concessions, or to ask for a vote. This research underlines the outcome of the negotiation is the result of the behaviour of the individual negotiatiors in light of the institutional constraints, that is, that that consensus is the prefer decision making mechanisms but that voting is possible. This work also highlights existence of an institutional framework: a characteristic UN treaty making procedure that, by demaning an exhaustive and reiterative consideration of all the issues being negotiated, favours agreement and enhances the legitimacy of the outcomes.
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