AJIL Unbound

By: Alejandro Lorite Escorihuela | May 05, 2015 | 11:15 AM EDT

In their article Precedent, Compliance, and Change in Customary International Law: An Explanatory Theory, Pierre-Hugues Verdier and Erik Voeten propose a new theory of customary international law (CIL), which can be summarized as follows:


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By: Jens David Ohlin | April 05, 2015 | 01:15 PM EDT

Verdier and Voeten have offered a new explanatory theory of compliance with customary international law.[1] The more typical rational choice story is that states comply with custom in order to prevent their partners from retaliating against them with defections of their own, either in the context of that norm or in some other context, or to avoid negative reputational consequences with third parties. In order to avoid the negative consequences of partner defection, states comply with customary norms because doing so promotes their...

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By: Timothy Meyer | April 05, 2015 | 01:00 PM EDT

Anthony D’Amato wrote in his 1971 The Concept of Custom in International Law[1] that “[t]he only way customary international law can change . . . is by giving legal effect to departures from preceding customary norms.” Violations are the seeds of new customary rules. International relations theory also teaches us that as the shadow of the future grows longer, states may forego short-term benefits from cheating on their legal obligations in order to preserve long-term cooperation. In "Precedent, Compliance, and Change in...

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By: Ingrid Wuerth | April 05, 2015 | 12:45 PM EDT

AJIL Unbound is pleased to announce three commentators who will discuss the article by Pierre-Hugues Verdier and Erik Voeten entitled "Precedent, Compliance, and Change in Customary International Law: An Explanatory Theory," 108 AJIL 389 (2014). The article argues that rational choice scholars have overlooked key characteristics of customary international law and that those characteristics undermine the enforcement of customary norms through decentralized punishment. Instead, Verdier and Voeten contend, states may...

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