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Is Enforcement Necessary for Effectiveness? A Model of the International Criminal Regime

  • Michael J. Gilligan (a1)

Recently, scholars have questioned whether enforcement mechanisms are necessary to make regimes effective. This article provides a model of the international criminal regime in which the regime changes state behavior even though it possesses no enforcement mechanisms. The article also answers several prominent criticisms of the International Criminal Court (ICC). Critics claim that the ICC is at best futile because it lacks the power to apprehend the criminals it is meant to prosecute. Even worse, the ICC may be harmful because it will induce atrocious leaders to hold on to power longer than they would if they could step down with immunity for past crimes. The model in this article suggests those criticisms may be inaccurate. I model the interaction between a leader and a foreign state that has the option of offering that leader asylum. I examine the effect of the creation of an ICC-like institution on that interaction. The model produces three main findings. (1) Leaders' reigns will not be prolonged as a result of the regime. (2) Although the institution has no enforcement power, some leaders (those with such a high probability of being deposed that they would willingly surrender to the institution rather than try to stay in office) will be punished by it. In those circumstances, the foreign state has no incentive to offer the leader asylum. (3) The institution may deter some atrocities at the margin.I would like to thank Tanaz Moghadam, whose undergraduate honors thesis, which William Clark and I advised, provides an earlier game-theoretic analysis of the Court and introduced me to the topic of the ICC. Special thanks go to William Clark for the idea of treating the ICC game-theoretically and for valuable comments at various stages of this project. I am grateful to Lisa Martin and two anonymous reviewers who provided exceptionally helpful insights. I would also like to acknowledge Sandy Gordon, Dimitri Landa, James Morrow, Steve Ratner, Shanker Satyanath and Ken Scheve for their much-appreciated input. All errors remain my responsibility.

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International Organization
  • ISSN: 0020-8183
  • EISSN: 1531-5088
  • URL: /core/journals/international-organization
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