The Global Diffusion of Law: Transnational Crime and the Case of Human Trafficking

54 Pages Posted: 5 Jul 2013 Last revised: 28 Feb 2019

See all articles by Beth A. Simmons

Beth A. Simmons

University of Pennsylvania

Paulette Lloyd

Government of the United States of America - Department of State

Brandon Stewart

Princeton University - Department of Sociology

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: 2018

Abstract

The past few decades have seen the proliferation of new laws criminalizing certain transnational activities, from money laundering to corruption; from insider trading to trafficking in weapons and drugs. Human trafficking is one example. We argue criminalization of trafficking in persons has diffused in large part because of the way the issue has been framed: primarily as a problem of organized crime rather than predominantly an egregious human rights abuse. Framing human trafficking as an organized crime practice empowers states to confront cross border human movements viewed as potentially threatening. We show that the diffusion of criminalization is explained by road networks that reflect potential vulnerabilities to the diversion of transnational crime. We interpret our results as evidence of the importance of context and issue framing, which in turn affects perceptions of vulnerability to neighbors’ policy choices. In doing so, we unify diffusion studies of liberalization with the spread of prohibition regimes to explain the globalization of aspects of criminal law.

Keywords: Transnational criminal law, empirical legal studies, transborder highways, road travel, policy diffusion, trafficking in persons, externalities, interdependence, organized crime

JEL Classification: K33

Suggested Citation

Simmons, Beth A. and Lloyd, Paulette and Stewart, Brandon, The Global Diffusion of Law: Transnational Crime and the Case of Human Trafficking (2018). International Organization, Vol. 72, p. 249, 2018, U of Penn Law School, Public Law Research Paper No. 19-11, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2289428 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2289428

Beth A. Simmons (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania ( email )

3501Sansom
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States
7817990076 (Phone)

Paulette Lloyd

Government of the United States of America - Department of State ( email )

United States

Brandon Stewart

Princeton University - Department of Sociology ( email )

Princeton, NJ
United States

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