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Strengthening International Courts and the Early Settlement of Disputes

Michael Gilligan, Leslie Johns and B. Peter Rosendorff
The Journal of Conflict Resolution
Vol. 54, No. 1 (February 2010), pp. 5-38
Published by: Sage Publications, Inc.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20684629
Page Count: 34
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Strengthening International Courts and the Early Settlement of Disputes
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Abstract

How does variation in the strength of a court's jurisdiction and enforcement affect strategic behavior by states involved in international disputes? The authors construct a formal model and identify three important ways that legal institutions can have a deleterious effect on international cooperation by magnifying the bargaining problems arising from incomplete information about the quality of the legal claims. First, strong courts create less information revelation in pretrial bargaining. Second, strong courts reduce the likelihood of pretrial settlements between states. Third, strong courts lead to more brinksmanship over high-value assets, which leads to conflict if the court refuses to intervene. The authors argue that a key policy implication of their model is that attempts to strengthen international courts must be accompanied by increased precision of international law to ameliorate the deleterious effects of strong courts.

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