International Law and Domestic Political Coalitions: The Grand Theory of Compliance with International Law

27 Pages Posted: 7 Feb 2010 Last revised: 14 Mar 2016

See all articles by Joel P. Trachtman

Joel P. Trachtman

Tufts University - The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy

Date Written: April 18, 2010

Abstract

Compliance with international law is always dependent upon a domestic political decision to engage in the behavior that constitutes compliance. This article articulates the importance of the interdependence between home state domestic politics and foreign state domestic politics in determining compliance. International legal commitments allow the formation of domestic 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. The theory developed in this paper is based on established approaches to international relations in the political science literature, in particular the “liberal” theory of international relations associated with Andrew Moravcsik, the two-level game theory approach associated with Robert Putnam, and the “second image reversed” approach associated with Peter Gourevitch. The two extensions of these approaches 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. This article extends the rationalist approach to compliance with international law into the domestic politics of the target state. The model advanced in this article allows the formalization and contextualization of a variety of factors that have heretofore been viewed alone as explanatory variables in the decision to comply. Policy makers can use this model as an analytical template by which to assess whether their counterparties would comply with any undertakings they may make.

Keywords: International Law, Compliance, Public choice, Lobbying, Retaliation, Two-Level Games, Second Image Reversed, Liberal Theory

JEL Classification: K33, K42

Suggested Citation

Trachtman, Joel P., International Law and Domestic Political Coalitions: The Grand Theory of Compliance with International Law (April 18, 2010). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1549337 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1549337

Joel P. Trachtman (Contact Author)

Tufts University - The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy ( email )

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