Procedures matter: Justice and effectiveness in international trade negotiations

Cecilia Albin, Daniel Druckman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


International negotiators have faced repeated stalemates in a number of significant areas. Justice issues are at the heart of the matter in many cases, as vividly illustrated by trade negotiations, particularly at the multilateral level. Yet, issues of justice have received limited attention in research on trade negotiation. This article asks: do trade negotiators who take justice principles into account arrive at more effective agreements? Specifically, it explores relationships between two types of justice during the negotiation process — procedural and distributive justice — and the effectiveness of outcomes (agreements) in 22 cases of bilateral and multilateral international trade negotiation. It evaluates the impacts of these types of justice on negotiation effectiveness. The results from analyses clearly demonstrate that procedural justice plays a central role in contributing to effective outcomes in both bilateral and multilateral trade cases. The correlations between procedural justice and effectiveness are very strong, and significantly stronger than between distributive justice and effectiveness. Moreover, distributive justice impacts upon effectiveness only when procedural justice principles are observed. These findings contribute knowledge about factors that enhance effective outcomes in international negotiations. They extend earlier work on justice in peace agreements and fill a gap in the research literature. They also provide advice for negotiators, and add important questions to the future research agenda.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1014-1042
Number of pages29
JournalEuropean Journal of International Relations
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 24 Dec 2014


  • Distributive justice
  • effective agreements
  • international trade negotiations
  • procedural justice


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