Foreign Election Interference and International Law

Election Interference: When Foreign Powers Target Democratic Institutions, Duncan Hollis & Jens Ohlin, eds., Forthcoming

21 Pages Posted: 8 Jun 2020

See all articles by Chimène Keitner

Chimène Keitner

University of California Hastings College of the Law

Date Written: May 12, 2020

Abstract

This draft chapter explores the possibilities, and limitations, of international law in regulating states’ attempts to influence each other’s elections. It begins by tracing attempts to further codify the non-intervention principle in the 1960’s and 1970’s. It then examines the tension produced by states’ conflicting desires to preserve the greatest possible freedom of action for themselves and to constrain the behavior of others. To date, this dynamic has impeded the ability to formulate explicit treaty-based solutions to the problem of foreign election interference. Identifying customary international law in this area requires inferring specific conduct-regulating rules from general principles, which can yield contested results. States are unlikely to agree to more granular, binding international rules as long as regimes currently in power benefit from constructive ambiguity. Although agreement on more concrete rules and enforcement mechanisms might remain elusive, like-minded states should continue to emphasize the importance of supporting peoples’ abilities to determine their own political destinies. This requires, at a minimum, promoting an anti-deception norm as a matter of both domestic and international law.

Keywords: Election Interference, Sovereignty, Self-Determination, Cyberspace, Non-Intervention, International Law

Suggested Citation

Keitner, Chimène, Foreign Election Interference and International Law (May 12, 2020). Election Interference: When Foreign Powers Target Democratic Institutions, Duncan Hollis & Jens Ohlin, eds., Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3599586 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3599586

Chimène Keitner (Contact Author)

University of California Hastings College of the Law ( email )

200 McAllister Street
San Francisco, CA 94102
United States

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