Case #224.0

Panama Canal Treaty Negotiations: Concluding a Treaty (B)

Publication Date: January 01, 1979
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On April 18, 1978, the US Senate ratified the Panama Canal Treaty, effectively returning control of the canal to the Panamanians after 75 years of US rule. This case examines the events leading up to this ratification. In Part A, students will have learned about the players (Congress, Department of Defense, Department of State, and the Panamanian government) and the issues involved in the negotiations. Part A also analysizes the role of the 1976 presidential campaign and conflicts between DOD and State in the treaty negotiation process; it concludes as Carter is elected president. Part B follows negotiations with Panama and the subsequent debate in the United States. The authors detail the substance of the treaty and the politics surrounding the Senate debate on the canal. The case concludes as the Senate ratifies the treaty.

Learning Objective:
This two-part case illustrates the process of negotiation when the negotiating parties are not monolithic. It demonstrates that real world negotiations are an embodiment of the delicate balance between internal politics and international power. The Panama Canal negotiations stand as a successful example of the synchronization of such internal conflicts and external negotiations.

Other Details

Case Author:
Mark McDonough
Faculty Lead:
Howard Raiffa and Douglas Johnston
Pages (incl. exhibits):
Central America, Panama
Funding Source:
National Defense University