International Law and State Socialization: Conceptual, Empirical, and Normative Challenges
17 Pages Posted: 19 Apr 2006
In How to Influence States: Socialization and International Human Rights Law, we argue that (1) acculturation is a conceptually distinct social process through which law might influence state behavior; and (2) the elements of the acculturation process suggest several regime design characteristics unorthodox to human rights law. More generally, we maintain that the behavioral assumptions of international legal regimes must be more systematically theorized and investigated. Proper specification of the social mechanisms of law's influence, we argue, would facilitate the development of an integrated theory of regime design - one that accounts for the various social mechanisms, specifies the conditions under which they predominate, and identifies the regime design features that best harness these forces. In thoughtful and probing reply essays, Dean Harold Hongju Koh and Professor Jose Alvarez raise several important questions about our argument. Broadly sympathetic to our view, Dean Koh and Professor Alvarez direct much of their commentary to ways in which the project might be refined and ways in which the descriptive claims might be tested empirically. In this brief response, we do not offer a comprehensive rebuttal to their essays. Instead, we seek to clarify our project in a few theoretically crucial respects through a focused consideration of three important themes that recur in the replies. Specifically, we discuss (1) the need for case studies documenting in detail the processes whereby and, the actors through which, global norms diffuse; (2) potential deficiencies in our model resulting from a failure to account for important variables; and (3) features of acculturation that question its conceptual coherence and its normative appeal.
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