Annual Conference 2019

Agreed to… nothing? Non-binding commitments in managing peace and conflict

International affairs have become less predictable, global partnerships less reliable. Against this backdrop, non-binding international arrangements and soft law have become increasingly popular tools to forge multilateral agreement on contested issues. Prominent recent frameworks include the Global Compact for Migration, the Paris Climate Accord, and the “Iran Deal” political arrangement, which has turned into a binding agreement over time. But can such legally and normatively consequential agreements spark sufficient confidence among their addressees, stabilize cooperation, and prevent conflict? How can non-binding agreements nonetheless commit their addressees?

The 2019 PRIF Annual Conference will debate and analyze non-binding commitments in international politics in general and their coercive character in particular. Possible broad research questions include the following, covering theoretical contributions as well as case studies.

  • Beyond legally binding provisions, which other coercive means for enforcement exist?
  • What are the downstream effects of non-binding international agreements, especially with respect to divergent expectations on their subsequent compulsory nature?
  • What makes resistance to coercion more or less likely?
  • What is the ideal balance between coercive enforcement on the one hand and treaty flexibility on the other? – Both (a) to reach an agreement in the first place and (b) to achieve compliance and avoid destructive contestation once it is signed?

To register for the conference, please send an email to annualconference @hsfk .de.



Thursday, 04. July 2019


Nicole Deitelhoff (PRIF/Goethe University Frankfurt)



The Iran Deal (JCPOA): Negotiation and Reliability in International Security



This panel will take place at Goethe University Frankfurt, Normative Orders Building, Max-Horkheimer-Straße 2, 60323 Frankfurt.

Agreed to… Nothing? Non-Binding Commitments in Managing Peace and Conflict



Friday, 05. July 2019


Negotiation and Compromise in Human Rights and Migration Treaties: the Global Compacts on Refugees and Migration



Consensus and Coercion in Environmental Affairs: the Paris Climate Agreement and Beyond 


Neither Shared nor Understood? Commitment and Enforcement Challenges for Cyber Security Norms


Download the full program