Is International Law Conducive to Prevent Looming Disasters?
28 Pages Posted: 3 Aug 2015
Date Written: July 28, 2015
Looming disasters mostly require collective action but international law is traditionally consent based. For a state to be bound by international law, it needs to have ratified a treaty (e.g. concerning climate change) or must be bound by customary international law. This horizontal form of cooperation makes the system sensitive to collective action problems (like free-riding on global public good, overuse of commons, begging-thy-neighbor etc.). I explore the question of whether other forms of cooperation, e.g. cooperation through soft law or international organizations mitigate the problem and under what circumstances this might be so. Furthermore, international law design might need to take into account internal processes within states (breaking up the black-box) as well as behavioral economic insights. The paper will suggest some mechanisms to help prevent states overcoming the cooperation problem with regard to looming disasters and highlight their limits as well. It submits that international lawyers need to look at all behavioral mechanisms of international law in order to understand how it can be designed and used to prevent looming disasters.
Keywords: international law, collective action problems, forms of cooperation, internal processes within state, behavioral economics
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