How Activists Perceive the Utility of International Law

Journal of Politics, Vol. 78, No.1, 2015

14 Pages Posted: 4 Nov 2015 Last revised: 26 Jan 2018

See all articles by Emilie Marie Hafner-Burton

Emilie Marie Hafner-Burton

UCSD School of Global Policy and Strategy

Brad L. LeVeck

University of California, Merced

David G. Victor

UC San Diego, School of Global Policy and Strategy

Date Written: October 1, 2015

Abstract

Scholars agree that international law works in part by empowering activists and have elaborated activist-focused theories particularly in the domains of environment and human rights. Some theories emphasize accountability — that law helps activists coerce, punish and deter offenders. Others emphasize that law helps to foster dialogue that leads to the acceptance of norms, trust and capacity to foster compliance. Possibly, law does both. We assess these views with a pair of survey experiments applied to 243 highly experienced NGO professionals who have first hand experience in either environment or human rights. Activists believe that NGOs would be less effective at reducing emissions of greenhouse gases or violations of core human rights in the absence of international law. They see the chief value of law arising through accountability politics rather than by fostering dialogue or capacity. However, the two communities have different views about whether binding or nonbinding agreements work best in their domain.

Suggested Citation

Hafner-Burton, Emilie Marie and LeVeck, Brad L. and Victor, David G., How Activists Perceive the Utility of International Law (October 1, 2015). Journal of Politics, Vol. 78, No.1, 2015. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2685381

Emilie Marie Hafner-Burton (Contact Author)

UCSD School of Global Policy and Strategy ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
La Jolla, CA 92093-0519
United States

HOME PAGE: http://gps.ucsd.edu/ehafner/

Brad L. LeVeck

University of California, Merced ( email )

P.O. Box 2039
Merced, CA 95344
United States

HOME PAGE: http://faculty.ucmerced.edu/bleveck

David G. Victor

UC San Diego, School of Global Policy and Strategy ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
La Jolla, CA 92093-0519
United States

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