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The Interaction of Formal and Informal Lawmaking


Mark A. Pollack


Temple University - Department of Political Science; Temple University - James E. Beasley School of Law

Gregory Shaffer


University of California at Irvine School of Law

February 16, 2012

INFORMAL INTERNATIONAL LAWMAKING, Joost Pauwelyn, R. Wessel & Jan Wouters, eds., Oxford University Press, 2012
Minnesota Legal Studies Research Paper No. 12-10

Abstract:     
Informal international lawmaking (IN-LAW) is an important and increasingly common phenomenon of contemporary international life. IN-LAW, however, has not replaced formal lawmaking, but exists alongside it, with multiple, overlapping formal and informal procedures often addressing the same substantive issues in world affairs. Why would states choose to address any given issue through formal or informal lawmaking – and why might they do both simultaneously? Furthermore, once two or more formal and informal lawmaking processes are underway, how do they interact in practice? To get at these questions theoretically, we develop two distinct theoretical models, one functionalist and the other distributive, and derive predictions about the conditions under which formal and informal procedures interact in complementary or antagonistic fashion. Moving from theory to empirics, we apply the theory to a series of cases, including the regulation of genetically modified foods, the protection of cultural diversity, climate change, humanitarian intervention, intellectual property rights and the legality of nuclear weapons, exploring in each case the motivations of states in establishing formal and informal law-making systems, as well as the complementary or antagonistic interaction of these systems in practice.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 30

Keywords: informal international law, hard and soft law, power and international law, WTO, dispute settlement, prisoners dilemma

JEL Classification: F02, F10

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Date posted: February 18, 2012  

Suggested Citation

Pollack, Mark A. and Shaffer, Gregory, The Interaction of Formal and Informal Lawmaking (February 16, 2012). INFORMAL INTERNATIONAL LAWMAKING, Joost Pauwelyn, R. Wessel & Jan Wouters, eds., Oxford University Press, 2012; Minnesota Legal Studies Research Paper No. 12-10. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2006450

Contact Information

Mark A. Pollack
Temple University - Department of Political Science ( email )
461 Gladfelter Hall
Philadelphia, PA 19122
United States
Temple University - James E. Beasley School of Law ( email )
1719 N. Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA 19122
United States
Gregory C. Shaffer (Contact Author)
University of California at Irvine School of Law ( email )
401 East Peltason Drive
Irvine, CA 92697
United States
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