The Importance Of Participation In International Law

1948 Words 8 Pages
International law is founded on the principles of recognition and compliance, but pays little attention to motive. The motive of states and leaders is posed as a question for political scientists, rather than legal experts. However, why states comply with the obligations, duties, etc. of international law is just as important as the system itself. Beliefs and intent are necessary for judgements in many instances within international law. While these more philosophical constructs are typically reserved for determining state practice and other legal requirements, they carry weight in other categories as well. Participating in international law would seem to be paradoxical behavior. A state must willfully reduce its sovereignty in order to take …show more content…
While there may be some states and leaders that participate in international law because they believe they have a legal obligation, the reasoning for most states surely must go beyond this. It would seem there are several key reasons states would willfully reduce their sovereignty by participating in international law. These reasons are: coercion, persuasion, and morality, or some combination of the three. Coercion, often called the realist approach is based on the discrepancy of power between the states of the word; there are weak states and strong states. The weak states are at the (hopefully righteous) will of the stronger states and must act in accordance to their orders or suggestions. Persuasion is the broadest and complex, it simply means that states (or leaders in particular) believe there is something to gain by participating in the system. They can be persuaded by other states or be persuaded by themselves that there are some benefits to participating in the system. These gains can be abstract or complex, they can range from material benefits such (such as financial aid) to benefits for the leaders (such as reelection due to their decisions being popular). The principle is a matter of benefits and what the benefit is or who get it differs from state to state. Finally, morality is the notion that the state or leader engages in international law because there is a …show more content…
This theory claims that the preferences of the coerced state are irrelevant here. While the weak state might prefer on practice, instead it must contend to the preferences of the stronger state. In this situation the weaker state perceives the benefit of continuing the practice that it desires to be lower than the benefit of not being punished by the stronger state. Simply, the positives of continuing the action don’t outweigh the negatives of the punishment. In this case, it’s best for the weaker state to cease the behavior it prefers (and accept whatever losses come with that cessation) and absorb the benefits of complying with the demands of the stronger state. While on the surface the coercion theory might seem to be a subset of the persuasion theory, in that the state is choosing an option based on a perceived benefit, this is in fact not the case. First, the difference between the coercion and persuasion theories is adverse effects against positive effects. Coercion is about compliance to avoid being punished or affected adversely, while persuasion is to seek out the best possible option. It’s the difference between choosing the lesser of two evils and choosing the better of two benefits. Secondly, in the scope of the coercion theory, there isn’t much of a choice. While it’s entirely possible for

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