Why Extraterritoriality? Trafficking, Human Rights and Nordic Prostitution Policies
Posted: 8 Jun 2013
Date Written: December 11, 2012
Norway’s decision (2008) to criminalize the purchase of sexual services has been compared to the Swedish sex purchase ban adopted a decade earlier. Scholars have debated whether these laws – along with Iceland’s ban (2009) and Finland’s partial ban (criminalizing the purchase of sexual services from victims of trafficking, 2006) – represent an emerging Nordic model, which seeks to abolish prostitution by targeting the demand-side rather than the supply-side through criminalization of the purchase but not the sale of sexual services. Yet, the extraterritorial (ET) dimension of the Norwegian ban sets it substantially apart from prostitution policies in other Nordic countries. It also represents an intriguing theoretical puzzle: Why do states sometimes decide to extend their jurisdiction beyond their own territorial borders?
In this paper, we address this policy puzzle against the backdrop of reforms to Norwegian prostitution policy in recent years. First, we note that although Nordic prostitution policies have drawn increasing attention from academic researchers in recent years, existing literature has not yet addressed the extra-territorial dimension of the Norwegian ban. Second, while there is a vast legal literature on extraterritorial law, the explanatory political science and international relations literature on the topic is still in its infancy. Because of this, we argue that the Norwegian ban represents an interesting case for extending the scope of existing theories of extraterritorial law-making. Third, by closely tracing the process through which the ban was adopted, we provide a rich explanation for why Norway opted for such a peculiar policy. In the concluding section, we discuss what our explanation implies in terms of being generalized to other settings. The main contribution of the paper is thus two-fold: It applies and modifies existing explanatory accounts of extraterritorial legislation to a novel case, and it provides an in-depth process tracing of a hitherto neglected case of Nordic prostitution policy innovation.
Keywords: Norway, prostitution policy, extraterritorial law-making, trafficking
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