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Federalism and Compliance with International Agreements: Belgium and Canada Compared

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This article aims to assess the effectiveness of two systems of governance with respect to the making of international treaties: the Canadian system, where the decision-making process is more centralized and where intergovernmental mechanisms are poorly institutionalized; and the Belgian system, where sub-state actors have the role of co-decision and where intergovernmental mechanisms are highly institutionalized. The central question to be discussed is: is the fact that one gives an important role to sub-state actors in the making of a country’s treaty by means of institutionalized intergovernmental mechanisms something that negatively or positively affects the foreign policy of a state? And is this a positive- or a negative-sum game at the level of the conclusion and implementation of treaties? The article concludes that the Belgian system is more effective, largely because its sub-state actors have an important role at every step of the conclusion of a treaty.

Affiliations: 1: École de politique appliquée, Université de Sherbrooke 2500 boulevard de l’Université Sherbrooke, Quebec J1K 2R1, Canada, Email:


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