Does International Law Matter?

97 Minnesota Law Review 743 (2013)

95 Pages Posted: 8 Feb 2013

See all articles by Shima Baradaran Baughman

Shima Baradaran Baughman

University of Utah - S.J. Quinney College of Law

Michael Findley

University of Texas at Austin

Daniel L. Nielson

Brigham Young University

J. C. Sharman

Griffith University

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: February 7, 2013


The importance of international law has grown in an increasingly global world. States and their citizens are interconnected and depend on each other to enforce and comply with international law to meet common goals. Despite the expanding presence of international law, the question that remains is whether international law matters. Do individuals comply with international law? And when they comply, do they comply because they fear penalties or because they desire to behave appropriately? This Article presents results from a randomized field experiment designed to investigate these questions. Major findings include that roughly one in seven international actors is willing to violate international law and the existence of penalties actually motivates some actors to break international law in greater numbers. In the first and largest global field experiment to date, this Article not only advances the scope of research methods generally, but also marks new ground by providing theoretical insights on the central questions of international law.

Keywords: International law, randomized controlled trial, global field experiment, constructivism, rationalism, managerial theory, penalty, international alw, compliance, norms, shell companies, incorporation transparency, financial action task force, FATF, OECD, tax haven, terrorism, corruption

JEL Classification: K33, C93, F23, G15

Suggested Citation

Baughman, Shima Baradaran and Findley, Michael and Nielson, Daniel L. and Sharman, J.C., Does International Law Matter? (February 7, 2013). 97 Minnesota Law Review 743 (2013), Available at SSRN:

Shima Baradaran Baughman (Contact Author)

University of Utah - S.J. Quinney College of Law ( email )

383 S. University Street
Salt Lake City, UT 84112-0730
United States

Michael Findley

University of Texas at Austin ( email )

2317 Speedway
Austin, TX 78712
United States

Daniel L. Nielson

Brigham Young University ( email )

Provo, UT 84602
United States

J.C. Sharman

Griffith University

170 Kessels Road
Nathan, Queensland QLD 4111

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