How Does International Law Work: What Empirical Research Shows

OXFORD HANDBOOK OF EMPIRICAL LEGAL STUDIES, eds., Peter Cane & Herbert Kritzer, 2010

Minnesota Legal Studies Research Paper No. 09-54

27 Pages Posted: 19 Dec 2009 Last revised: 4 Feb 2010

Tom Ginsburg

University of Chicago Law School

Gregory Shaffer

University of California, Irvine School of Law

Date Written: December 16, 2009

Abstract

This paper for the Oxford Handbook of Empirical Legal Studies (forthcoming 2010) assesses what empirical research shows in response to three questions concerning international law: (i) why international law is produced and invoked; (ii) how international law is produced; and (iii) how and under what conditions international law matters. We assess variation in response to these questions across different areas of international law, since different actors and institutions are present, and distinct processes and mechanisms are used in such areas as international human rights, criminal, trade, investment, and regulatory law. For each of these questions, we contend that understanding state behavior requires “unpacking” the state and exploring variation at the national and subnational level. We find that most empirical work indicates that international law’s impact varies in light of such factors as the situation of the state in question (including its regime type and level of wealth); the congruity of the issue with domestic political contests; and the role of intermediaries such as government elites or civil society in conveying international law norms into domestic systems.

Keywords: empirical studies, international law

Suggested Citation

Ginsburg, Tom and Shaffer, Gregory, How Does International Law Work: What Empirical Research Shows (December 16, 2009). OXFORD HANDBOOK OF EMPIRICAL LEGAL STUDIES, eds., Peter Cane & Herbert Kritzer, 2010; Minnesota Legal Studies Research Paper No. 09-54. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1524385 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1524385

Tom Ginsburg

University of Chicago Law School ( email )

1111 E. 60th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Gregory C. Shaffer (Contact Author)

University of California, Irvine School of Law ( email )

401 E. Peltason Dr.
Ste. 1000
Irvine, CA 92612
United States

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