Krzysztof J. Pelc

I am William Dawson Scholar and Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at McGill University

My research examines the international political economy, with a focus on international rules. I am interested in how the design of rules affects odds of cooperation, and how some rules may benefit some countries over others. This has led me to write about participation in institutions, privacy and publicity, the effects of (il)legitimacy on political outcomes, optimal ambiguity, the impact of hard times on cooperation, and the circumstances under which actors are allowed to break formal rules. Much of this research looks specifically at the rules of the World Trade Organization (WTO). My work appears in International Organization, the American Political Science Review, World Politics, the International Studies Quarterly, the World Trade Review, the British Journal of Political Science, the Journal of International Economic Law, and the Journal of Conflict Resolution, among others, and is supported by multiple grants from SSHRC and the FQRSC.   

My forthcoming book (Cambridge Press), entitled "Making and Bending International Rules: The Design of Exceptions and Escape Clauses in Trade Law", brings together some of the main points of this research agenda. The book addresses the means by which WTO members have resolved what has been called the institution’s “architectural challenge”: how can we attain the benefits of flexibility, whereby countries are allowed to temporarily break the rules when faced with hard times, while curbing its abuse?

You can contact me at 


• Johns, Leslie and Krzysztof Pelc. “Fear of Crowds in WTO Disputes: Why Don't More Countries Participate?Journal of Politics. Forthcoming. 

• Kucik, Jeffrey and Krzysztof Pelc. "Measuring the Cost of Privacy: A Look at the Distributional Effects of Private Bargaining". British Journal of Political Science. Forthcoming

• Davis, Christina and Krzysztof Pelc. “Cooperation in Hard Times: Self-Restraint of Trade Protection”. Journal of Conflict Resolution. Forthcoming

• Pelc, Krzysztof and Johannes Urpelainen. When Do International Economic Agreements Allow Countries to Pay to Breach?". Review of International Organizations. Special Issue "Dispute Settlement in International Organizations". Forthcoming.  

 Pelc, Krzysztof. 2014. “The Politics of Precedent in International Law: A Social Network Application”. American Political Science Review 108(3): 547-564.

• Johns, Leslie and Krzysztof Pelc. 2014. “Who Gets to Be in the Room? Manipulating Participation in WTO Disputes.”  International Organization 68(3): 663-699. 

• Busch, Marc and Krzysztof Pelc. 2014. "Law, Politics, and the True Cost of Protectionism: The Choice of Trade Remedies or Binding Overhang." World Trade Review 13(1):39-64. 

• Pelc, Krzysztof. 2013. "Googling the WTO: What Search Engine Data Tell Us About the Political Economy of Institutions" International Organization, 67(3): 629-655.

• Pelc, Krzysztof. 2013. “The Cost of Wiggle-Room: Considering the Welfare Effects of Flexibility in Tariff Rates at the WTO”International Studies Quarterly, 57: 91-102.

• Pelc, Krzysztof. 2011. “Why do Some Countries Get Better WTO Accession Terms than Others?” International Organization 65(4): 639-672.

• Pelc, Krzysztof. 2011. “How States Ration Flexibility: Tariffs, Remedies, and Exchange Rates as Policy Substitutes”. World Politics 63(4): 618-646.

• Pelc, Krzysztof. 2010. “Why Do We Not See More Efficient Breach at the WTO?”, 2010. World Trade Review 9(4): 629-642.  (Winner of the 2009 Cambridge University Press Prize for International Economic Law)

• Pelc, Krzysztof. 2010. “Constraining Coercion? Legitimacy and Its Role in U.S. Trade Policy, 1975-2000”. International Organization 64(1): 65-96.

• Busch, Marc and Krzysztof Pelc. 2010. “The Politics of Judicial Economy at the World Trade Organization”. International Organization 64(2): 257-279.

• Pelc, Andrzej and Krzysztof Pelc. 2009. “Same Game, New Tricks: Recognizing Good Strategies in the Iterated Prisoner’s Dilemma”Journal of Conflict Resolution 53(5): 774-793.

• Busch, Marc and Krzysztof Pelc. 2009. “Does the WTO Need a Permanent Body of Panelists? Journal of International Economic Law 12(3): 579-594.

• Pelc, Krzysztof. 2009. “Seeking Escape: Escape Clauses in International Trade Agreements”. International Studies Quarterly 53 (2): 349-368.

Book Chapters

• Pelc, Krzysztof. Forthcoming. “The Welfare Implications of Precedent in International Law", in Establishing International Authority in International Law, edited by Joanna Jemielniak, Laura Nielsen and Henrik Palmer Olsen. Cambridge University Press.

• Pelc, Krzysztof. Forthcoming. “What Would EH Carr Say? How International Institutions Address Political Change", in Accommodating Rising Powers, edited by T.V. Paul. Cambridge University Press.

• Busch, Marc and Krzysztof Pelc. 2014. “Dispute Settlement in the WTO", in The Oxford Handbook of the Political Economy of International Trade, edited by Lisa Martin. Oxford University Press.

• Busch, Marc and Krzysztof Pelc. 2011. “Ruling Not to Rule: The Use of Judicial Economy at the WTO”. in: The Politics of International Economic Law, edited by Broude et al. Cambridge University Press.

Working Papers

• "Do WTO Disputes Actually Increase Trade?" (With Stephen Chaudoin and Jeff Kucik), R&R.

• "Words Matter: How International Courts Handle Political Controversy". (with Marc Busch). Presented at: IO Judicialization of IR Workshop, Northwestern University.