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Who Keeps International Commitments and Why? The International Criminal Court and Bilateral Nonsurrender Agreements

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 July 2007

Duke University


What do countries do when they have committed to a treaty, but then find that commitment challenged? After the creation of the International Criminal Court, the United States tried to get countries, regardless of whether they were parties to the Court or not, to sign agreements not to surrender Americans to the Court. Why did some states sign and others not? Given United States power and threats of military sanctions, some states did sign. However, such factors tell only part of the story. When refusing to sign, many states emphasized the moral value of the court. Further, states with a high domestic rule of law emphasized the importance of keeping their commitment. This article therefore advances two classic arguments that typically are difficult to substantiate; namely, state preferences are indeed partly normative, and international commitments do not just screen states; they also constrain.

© 2007 by the American Political Science Association

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