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What Should We Ask Reputation to Do?

  • Paul B. Stephan (a1)

Extract

Kristina Daugirdas's important new article prompts two kinds of responses. By providing a sophisticated analysis of the role of reputation in influencing the behavior of international actors, it invites further thoughts about what we might think reputation is and does. By taking a moral position—the UN should do more to reduce sexual abuse by UN-sponsored peacekeepers in conflict zones—she provokes us to consider how to optimize institutional design in light of particular goals. In this essay, I don't quarrel with anything she says. Rather, I will respond to her prompting. I will discuss methodological issues first, then normative ones.

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Copyright

This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

References

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1 Kristina Daugirdas, Reputation as a Disciplinarian of International Organizations, 113 AJIL 221 (2019).

2 Ralph Begleiter, Media and International Affairs in the Satellite Age, 89 ASIL Proc. 119, 120–21 (1995).

3 Daugirdas, supra note 1, at 243, 246.

4 Oona A. Hathaway, Do Human Rights Treaties Make a Difference?, 111 Yale L.J. 1935 (2002).

5 Others, especially constructivists, do not accept her premises and thus reject her conclusions. See, e.g., Ryan Goodman & Derek Jinks, Measuring the Effects of Human Rights Treaties, 14 EJIL 171 (2003). Later work indicates that the links between signing and complying with human rights treaties are complex, even from a rational-interest perspective. Beth A. Simmons, Mobilizing for Human Rights: International Law in Domestic Politics (2009); Ingrid B. Wuerth, International Law in the Post-Human Rights Era, 96 Tex. L. Rev. 279 (2017).

6 Daugirdas, supra note 1, at 254–58. The most prominent rendition of the happy story is Andrew T. Guzman, How International Law Works (2008).

7 A well analyzed instance in the economics literature is predatory pricing under conditions of uncertainty about the predator's welfare curve. Predators with a reputation for valuing market share at levels that others might find irrational have an advantage. Peter H. Huang, Still Preying on Strategic Reputation Models of Predation, 3 Green Bag 437, 439 (2000) (citing Paul Milgrom & John Roberts, Predation, Reputation and Entry Deterrence, 27 J. Econ. Theory 280, 284 fn.4 (1982)); Richard A. Posner, Some Economics of International Law: Comment on Conference Papers, 31 J. Leg. Stud. 321, 325 (2002) (value of reputation for ruthlessness).

9 Daugirdas, supra note 1, at 222.

10 It may be possible for the Security Council to refer such crimes to the International Criminal Court, or for a domestic court itself to prosecute crimes committed by nationals of or on the territory of a state party to the Rome Statute. Service under UN command, however, may affect the jurisdictional analysis. I do not consider those issues here.

12 R.H. Coase, The Nature of the Firm, 4 Economica 386 (1937).

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