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Paths to Compliance: Enforcement, Management, and the European Union

Abstract

The contemporary debate on compliance has been framed in terms of two contending perspectives on how best to make states comply with international rules: enforcement or management. Whereas enforcement theorists stress a coercive strategy of monitoring and sanctions, management theorists embrace a problem-solving approach based on capacity building, rule interpretation, and transparency. In this article, I challenge the conception that enforcement and management are competing strategies for achieving compliance. Based on the case of the European Union (EU) and a comparison with other international regimes, I suggest that enforcement and management mechanisms are most effective when combined. The twinning of cooperative and coercive instruments in a “management-enforcement ladder” makes the EU highly successful in combating violations, thus reducing non-compliance to a temporal phenomenon. An examination of regimes in the areas of trade, environment, and human rights lends additional support to this proposition; compliance systems that offer both forms of mechanism are particularly effective in securing rule conformance, whereas systems that only rely on one of the strategies suffer in identifiable ways.

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