International Law and Domestic Political Coalitions: The Causes of Compliance with International Law
Joel P. Trachtman
Tufts University - The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy
July 9, 2009
The cause of compliance with international law is a domestic political decision to engage in the behavior that constitutes compliance. This article explains the importance of the interdependence between domestic politics and foreign politics in determining compliance. International legal commitments allow the formation of coalitions between those who will benefit by their own state’s compliance with the international legal rule in question, and those who will benefit from other states’ compliance with the international legal rule. This theory is based on established approaches to international relations in the political science literature, in particular two-level game theory associated with Robert Putnam and the “second image reversed” approach associated with Peter Gourevitch. The two extensions of this approach made in this article, (i) from international relations more broadly to international law, and (ii) from adherence to compliance, raise some questions, and bear some important fruit. These extensions help to illuminate the problem of compliance. The theory proposed here subsumes other theories of compliance and provides a highly plausible set of assumptions about the circumstances under which we may expect states to comply with international law.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 32
Keywords: international law, compliance, domestic politics
JEL Classification: K00, K33, K42working papers series
Date posted: August 2, 2009
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