How international law works: a rational choice theory
International relations are full of appeals to and claims about international law. From intellectual property, to human rights, to environment, to investment, to health and safety, issues that have traditionally been almost exclusively within the purview of domestic lawmakers are now thesubject of international legal obligations. Yet despite the importance of international law, there are no well-developed set of theories on the ways in which international law impacts domestic decision makers. Filling a conspicuous gap in the legal literature, Andrew T. Guzmans How International Law Works develops a coherent theory of international law and applies that theory to the primary sources of law, treaties, customary international law, and soft law. Starting where most non-specialists start,Guzman looks at how a legal system without enforcement tools can succeed. If international law is not enforced through coercive tools, how is it enforced at all? And why would states comply with it? Supporting the traditional international law view that international law matters and affects state behavior, Guzman offers a theory of international law that assumes states behave rationally and selfishly. The author argues that at the heart of compliance with international law is the basic factthat a failure to live up to legal obligations today will impact a countrys ability to extract concessions for legal promises in the future. Under this reputational model, the violation of international law generates a costly loss of reputation and the threat of this loss provides an incentive tocomply. A reputational theory suggests when and where international law is likely to be effective and ways to maximize its ability to advance the goal of international cooperation. Understanding international law in a world of rational states helps us to understand when we can look to internationallaw to resolve problems, and when we must accept that we live in an anarchic world and must leave some issues to politics.
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A General Theory of International Law
How Reputation Is Gained and Lost
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actions affect state behavior assumptions Basel Accord beliefs bilateral breach Canada chapter coercive commitments compliance decision compliance with international comply with international consider context cooperation coordination games costly Court credible customary international law developed discount rate discussion dispute resolution domestic economies of scope enforcement enter environmental environmental agreement escape clauses example existing exit clauses expect future GATT human rights ICCPR impact impose incentive to comply increase interactions interest international agreements investment issue areas Kyoto Protocol Law of Treaties legal rules ment negotiations noncompliance nonreputational payoffs norms nuclear weapons observing opinio juris parties Pena-Irala political possible practice prefer prisoner's dilemma problem promises rational choice reason reciprocity reduce regime relevant reputation for compliance reputational consequences reputational sanctions requires retaliation risk aversion rule of CIL Russia soft law agreements Soviet Union state's reputation substantive ternational theory tion tional trade United Vienna Convention violation