A Virtual Wall of Shame: The New Way of Imposing Reputational Sanctions on Defiant States
iCourts Working Paper Series No. 54
53 Pages Posted: 3 May 2016 Last revised: 6 Apr 2017
Date Written: May 3, 2016
What happens after an international court finds a state violated international law? Many realize today that states often fail to comply with such judgments. International courts like the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) have to rely on the help of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) to shame states into compliance. In 2011, the body charged with enforcing judgments of the ECHR launched a new website dedicated to publishing reports by NGOs that criticize states for noncompliance with ECHR judgments. This website published hundreds of reports, as well as the responses of some accused states. The paper analyzes all the reports published in the first four years since the website was created. This analysis, together with interviews with many of the NGO lawyers involved, sheds light on the way reputational sanctions work in international law. It reveals that NGOs focus most of their attention on legally important cases and on cases that address severe violations. It also shows that NGOs focus on states that usually comply with their international obligations instead of on states that regularly fail to comply with international law.
Keywords: Reputation, Non-Governmental Organizations, European Court of Human Rights
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