Efficient Enforcement in International Law

48 Pages Posted: 25 Feb 2010 Last revised: 14 Mar 2016

See all articles by Omri Ben-Shahar

Omri Ben-Shahar

University of Chicago Law School

Anu Bradford

Columbia Law School; Columbia University - Law School

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: June 16, 2010


Enforcement is a fundamental challenge for international law. Sanctions are costly to impose, difficult to coordinate, and often ineffective in accomplishing their goals. Rewards are likewise costly and domestically unpopular. Thus, efforts to address pressing international problems - such as reversing climate change and coordinating monetary policy - often fall short. This article offers a novel approach to international enforcement and demonstrates how it would apply to those challenging problems. It develops a mechanism of Reversible Rewards, which combine sticks and carrots in a unique, previously unexplored, way. Reversible Rewards require a precommitted fund aimed to reward the target state for its compliance. Alternatively, the same reward can be used to pay for sanctions in case of target’s non-compliance. Reversible Rewards solve two (related) problems that undermine existing efforts to enforce international law: high costs and low credibility. The article demonstrates that, relative to sanctions or rewards used alone, Reversible Rewards double the incentives for compliance that any given enforcement fund can generate.d.

Suggested Citation

Ben-Shahar, Omri and Bradford, Anu and Bradford, Anu, Efficient Enforcement in International Law (June 16, 2010). U of Chicago Law & Economics, Olin Working Paper No. 512, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1558493 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1558493

Omri Ben-Shahar (Contact Author)

University of Chicago Law School ( email )

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

Anu Bradford

Columbia University - Law School ( email )

435 West 116th Street
New York, NY 10009

Columbia Law School ( email )

435 West 116th Street
New York, NY 10027
United States

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