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When Do States Follow the Laws of War?

  • JAMES D. MORROW (a1)
Abstract

The laws of war seek to regulate conduct during wartime. The record of compliance with these treaties is mixed. I explain compliance as the result of publicly accepted and so legally binding agreements that create incentives for the parties to enforce those agreements through reciprocity. Ratification by a democracy is a signal that it intends to abide by the treaty standard; those that ratify are more likely to comply. Ratification does not effect the behavior of nondemocracies, however. Ratification of the relevant treaty by both warring parties strengthens reciprocity. There is a hierarchy of average compliance across issues which matches the scope for violations by individuals on each issue, with greater scope for such violations corresponding to lower levels of compliance.

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Corresponding author
James D. Morrow is Professor of Political Science and Research Professor, Center for Political Studies; and Visiting Professor, Graduate Institute of International Studies, Department of Political Science, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48103 (jdmorrow@umich.edu).
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American Political Science Review
  • ISSN: 0003-0554
  • EISSN: 1537-5943
  • URL: /core/journals/american-political-science-review
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