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Scorecard Diplomacy
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Book description

What can the international community do when countries would rather ignore a thorny problem? Scorecard Diplomacy shows that, despite lacking traditional force, public grades are potent symbols that can evoke countries' concerns about their reputations and motivate them to address the problem. The book develops an unconventional but careful argument about the growing phenomenon of such ratings and rankings. It supports this by examining the United States' foreign policy on human trafficking using a global survey of NGOs, case studies, thousands of diplomatic cables, media stories, 90 interviews worldwide, and other documents. All of this is gathered together in a format that walks the reader through the mechanisms of scorecard diplomacy, including an assessment of the outcomes. Scorecard Diplomacy speaks both to those keen to understand the pros and cons of US policy on human trafficking and to those interested in the central question of influence in international relations. The book's companion website can be found at


'Judith G. Kelley bridges rigorous academic research and policy relevance as realms too often divorced. She is uniquely creative in delivering unexpected conclusions and hard proof. This study offers subtle insights about what actually works in US human trafficking policy. The book sheds light on how reputation affects governments’ conduct and laws. It addresses important questions about the relative impact of rating countries, sanctions, diplomacy over time, consistency, and unilateralism in foreign policy. Scorecard Diplomacy is a major work on norms and impactful statecraft, important far beyond its fascinating case study on combating the sex and labor slavery of our time.'

Mark P. Lagon - Centennial Fellow, Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University, Washington, DC, and former US Ambassador-At-Large to Combat Trafficking Persons

'Scorecard Diplomacy is social science at its best. Marshaling a wealth of material and methods, Judith G. Kelley explains why states care about reputations and how grading of their performances affects behavior.'

Jonas Tallberg - Stockholms Universitet

'A quiet revolution has occurred in global governance over the last two decades. States, international organizations, and non-state actors are scoring, ranking, and measuring states for all kinds of reasons - which country is the least corrupt, the most democratic, and on and on. But do states actually care enough to change their behavior so that they can move up in the rankings? Scorecard Diplomacy is the first place to look when trying to answer these questions. Careful, systematic, and consistently compelling, Kelley makes the case that these scores can matter. In doing so she not only provides an important statement on the new global governance, she also contributes to the ongoing recognition of the different kinds of power that exist in world affairs. A fascinating and important contribution to international relations and global governance.'

Michael Barnett - International Affairs and Political Science, George Washington University, Washington, DC

'Scorecard Diplomacy is a fascinating study of how the United States uses its assessment power to influence policy change around the world. Judith G. Kelley shows that ratings matter in the public sphere. This is an incredibly insightful look at how modern US diplomacy has harnessed anxiety about ‘grades’ to provoke change in national policies - and has kept human trafficking on the global agenda.'

Beth A. Simmons - Andrea Mitchell University Professor in Law and Political Science, University of Pennsylvania

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