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The design of enforcement: Collective action and the enforcement of international law

Leslie Johns

Journal of Theoretical Politics, 2019, vol. 31, issue 4, 543-567

Abstract: International organizations (IOs) play a vital role in enforcing international law. I argue that collective-action problems and the design of legal-standing rules drive decisions about whether to enforce international law. When cooperation generates concentrated benefits—such as compensation for the expropriation of foreign investment—transnational standing can work well because the cost and benefit of enforcement are both fully internalized by the litigant. However, when cooperation generates diffuse benefits—like a cleaner environment—individuals and even governments have the incentive to free ride on enforcement, avoiding the cost of litigation in the hopes that another actor will step up. In such circumstances, supranational standing is necessary to uphold international law. Finally, hybrid regimes, which contain multiple forms of enforcement, are most needed when an IO has members that vary in their ability to enforce, or regulates issue areas that vary in their diffuseness.

Keywords: Enforcement; international courts; international law; international organizations (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
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DOI: 10.1177/0951629819875514

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