Chicago Journal of International Law


Compliance with international law is always dependent upon a contemporaneous domestic political decision to comply. This Article articulates the importance of the interdependence between home-state domestic politics and foreign-state domestic politics in determining compliance. International legal commitments allow the formation of domestic coalitions between those who will benefit from their own state's compliance with the international legal rule, and those who will benefit from other states' compliance with the international legal rule. This Article extends the rationalist approach to compliance with international law to the domestic politics of the target state. The theory developed in this Article builds on established approaches to international relations in the political science literature, in particular the "liberal" theory of international relations associated with Andrew Moracsik, the two-level game theory approach associated with Robert Putnam, and the "second image reversed" approach associated with Peter Gourevitch. This Article extends these approaches (i) from broader international relations to international law and (ii) from adherence to compliance. The model advanced in this Article allows the formaliZation and contextualization of a variety of factors that up to now have been viewed in isolation as explanatory variables in the decision to comply. Policymakers can use this model as an analytical template by which to assess whether their counterparties would comply with any undertakings they may make.