Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=2467101
 


 



Precedent, Compliance and Change in Customary International Law: An Explanatory Theory


Pierre-Hugues Verdier


University of Virginia School of Law

Erik Voeten


Georgetown University - Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service (SFS)

July 16, 2014

American Journal of International Law, Vol. 108 (2014 Forthcoming)
Virginia Public Law and Legal Theory Research Paper No. 2014-38

Abstract:     
This article articulates an explanatory theory of customary international law under which precedential concerns are central to explaining CIL formation, compliance and change. In contrast with previous theories, which emphasize the role of reciprocity, retaliation and reputation in sustaining cooperation, we show that fundamental legal and institutional features of CIL complicate the use of such decentralized punishment mechanisms. Yet, the same features support an alternative rationale for compliance: a state may comply because it knows its decision to defect creates a precedent that may undermine a cooperative norm it values. We develop this rationale and show that it explains and clarifies several important aspects of traditional CIL doctrine. By emphasizing the distinctive legal and institutional features of CIL familiar to international lawyers, we also demonstrate the importance of incorporating legal insights in interdisciplinary positive analyses of international law.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 50

Keywords: customary international law, precedent, treaties

JEL Classification: K33, K40, N40

Accepted Paper Series


Download This Paper

Date posted: July 18, 2014  

Suggested Citation

Verdier, Pierre-Hugues and Voeten, Erik, Precedent, Compliance and Change in Customary International Law: An Explanatory Theory (July 16, 2014). American Journal of International Law, Vol. 108 (2014 Forthcoming); Virginia Public Law and Legal Theory Research Paper No. 2014-38. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2467101

Contact Information

Pierre-Hugues Verdier (Contact Author)
University of Virginia School of Law ( email )
580 Massie Road
Charlottesville, VA 22903
United States

Erik Voeten
Georgetown University - Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service (SFS) ( email )
Washington, DC 20057
United States
Feedback to SSRN


Paper statistics
Abstract Views: 259
Downloads: 109
Download Rank: 148,495

© 2014 Social Science Electronic Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.  FAQ   Terms of Use   Privacy Policy   Copyright   Contact Us
This page was processed by apollo7 in 0.344 seconds