Krzysztof Pelc

I am William Dawson Scholar and Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at McGill University. I got my PhD from Georgetown University, and spent my postdoc at Princeton' Niehaus Center. I have been a visiting professor at NYU, the Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Advanced Studies in New Delhi, and the University of Copenhagen's iCourts Center.

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, precedent in public international law, 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) and the international investment regime.

My book, "Making and Bending International Rules: The Design of Exceptions and Escape Clauses in Trade Law" (Cambridge Press), brings together some of the main points of this research agenda. The book examines how international law handles unexpected events: how can we attain the benefits of legal flexibility, whereby countries are allowed to temporarily break the rules when faced with hard times, while curbing its abuse?

I was awarded McGill's 2017 Faculty of Arts Award for Distinction in Research. 

Contact me at 


• Castle, Matthew and Krzysztof Pelc. 2019. "The Causes and Effects of Leaks in International Negotiations." International Studies QuarterlyForthcoming.

• Busch, Marc L. and Krzysztof Pelc. 2019. "Words Matter: How International Courts Handle Political Controversy". International Studies QuarterlyForthcoming 63(2).  

 Johns, Leslie and Krzysztof Pelc. 2018."Free-Riding on Enforcement in the WTO". Journal of Politics80(3): 873-889

 Arel-Bundock, Vincent and Krzysztof J. Pelc. 2018. "When Can Multiple Imputation Improve Regression Estimates?Political Analysis. 26(2): 240-245.
        Replication Materials.    Dataverse.

 Pelc, Krzysztof. 2017. "What Explains the Low Success Rate of Investor-State Disputes?" International Organization. 71(3): 559-583. 
        Full ISDS dataset in .xls and .dta.            Discussed on Buzzfeed.   
        Replication Materials
            Data update: full ISDS dataset (Jan2018)
            Check UNCTAD's website up-to-date data.

• Daku, Mark and Krzysztof J. Pelc. 2017. "Who Holds Influence Over WTO Jurisprudence?" Journal of International Economic Law. 20(2): 233–255.

• Kucik, Jeffrey and Krzysztof Pelc. 2016. "Do International Rulings Have Spillover Effects? The View from Financial Markets". World Politics68(4): 713-751.

• Johns, Leslie and Krzysztof Pelc. 2016. “Fear of Crowds in WTO Disputes: Why Don't More Countries Participate?Journal of Politics. 78(1): 88–104

• Kucik, Jeffrey and Krzysztof Pelc. 2016 "Measuring the Cost of Privacy: A Look at the Distributional Effects of Private Bargaining". British Journal of Political Science46(4):861-889.

• Chaudoin, Stephen, Jeffrey Kucik and Krzysztof Pelc. 2016. "Do WTO Disputes Actually Increase Trade?" International Studies Quarterly60(2): 294-306.

• Kucik, Jeffrey and Krzysztof Pelc. 2016. "Over-Commitment and Backsliding in International Trade". European Journal of Political Research. 55(2): 391–415.

• Pelc, Krzysztof J. 2016. Making and Bending International Rules: The Design of Exceptions and Escape Clauses in Trade Law. New York: Cambridge University Press. 

• Davis, Christina and Krzysztof Pelc. 2015. “Cooperation in Hard Times: Self-Restraint of Trade Protection”. Journal of Conflict Resolution. First Published August 6, 2015. 398–429. 

• Pelc, Krzysztof and Johannes Urpelainen. 2015. When Do International Economic Agreements Allow Countries to Pay to Breach?". Review of International Organizations10(2):231-264 

 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, 2009 Cambridge Univ. 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.
       Discussed on the Washington Post Monkey Cage

• 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. 2017. "Twenty Years of Third Party Participation at the WTO: What Have We Learned?" in Assessing the World Trade Organization: Fit for Purpose?, edited by Manfred Elsig and Joost Pauwelyn. Cambridge University Press.  

• Kucik, Jeffrey and Krzysztof Pelc. 2017. "What Can Financial Markets Tell Us About International Courts and Deterrence?" in International Courts and Domestic Politics, edited by Marlene Wind. Cambridge University Press.  

• Pelc, Krzysztof. 2016. “The Welfare Implications of Precedent in International Law", in Establishing Judicial Authority in International Economic Law, edited by Joanna Jemielniak, Laura Nielsen and Henrik Palmer Olsen. Cambridge University Press.

• Pelc, Krzysztof. 2016. “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. 2015. “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

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

• "Do Investor-State Disputes Harm FDI?" with Andrew Kerner.

• "Charting the Sources of Brexit: Lessons for Canada-UK Relations" Knowledge Synthesis Report, SSHRC. 

And for something a little different

 "Green Velvet", a short story about immigration, furniture, and termites, and a winner of the 2019 CBC Short Story Prize. You can both read and listen to it here.  


          Read the Introductory Chapter of Making and Bending International Rules.

Popular Press

"Does Bullying in International Relations Work?" Literary Review of Canada. April 2019. 

"The Free Trade MalaiseLiterary Review of Canada. March 2018.

The HillFebruary. 16, 2018.  

"Does Unilateralism Work? History Says No". Washington Post. Monkey Cage. March 7, 2017.

"Are Secret Negotiations at the WTO a Problem?" (with Jeffrey Kucik). Washington Post. Monkey Cage. Jan 6th 2017.

"Le libre-échange, la plus ancienne des technologies pertubatrices". Magazine Nouveau Projet, Hiver 2016.  

"What Our Dollars Fuel". New Rambler Review. 2016.

"La France a raison de s’opposer", Le Devoir. 6 juillet 2015.

"How Cotton Became a ‘World Question’". New Rambler Review. 2015.

Recent Media

Data Pages

Readily accessible WTO data including product codes for all disputed products, trade volumes, legal claims, and third party participation:
 "US House Democrats' Letter on Peru," Note about GATT Article XXI. 

The WTO's Words: A Structured Archive of the WTO's Rulings:

This directory contains all the WTO's rulings in machine readable format. They are arranged in a structured directory, by 

Document type > 
    Dispute number > 
        Panel / AB stage > 
            Country role (complainant, respondent, third party) > 

Send me any queries or corrections, and if you use this archive, please cite: 

    Daku, Mark and Krzysztof J. Pelc. 2017. Who Holds Influence Over WTO Jurisprudence? Journal of International Economic Law20(2): 233–255.