Resolving Deadlock: Why International Organisations Introduce Soft Law

15 Pages Posted: 8 May 2006

See all articles by Armin Schäfer

Armin Schäfer

Max Planck Society for the Advancement of the Sciences - Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies

Abstract

Since the mid-1990s the European Union has introduced a number of policy coordination processes that abstain from delegating or pooling sovereignty. Instead the EU relies on soft law that does not legally bind governments in the same way as the Community Method used to. The literature assumes that soft law is chosen to achieve common objectives given considerable diversity among the Member States. In contrast, this paper suggests that non-binding coordination is first and foremost a means to foster compromises in the absence of substantial agreements. Three case studies demonstrate that international organisations have repeatedly relied on soft law to overcome disagreements among their members. The IMF, the OECD, and the EU introduced soft coordination at times of institutional crisis to prevent a breakdown of negotiations.

Suggested Citation

Schäfer, Armin, Resolving Deadlock: Why International Organisations Introduce Soft Law. European Law Journal, Vol. 12, No. 2, pp. 194-208, March 2006, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=889812 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-0386.2006.00315.x

Armin Schäfer (Contact Author)

Max Planck Society for the Advancement of the Sciences - Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies ( email )

Paulstr. 3
50676 Koln
Germany

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