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
Date Written: May 12, 2020
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
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