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The New Terrain of International Law: Courts, Politics, Rights. By Karen J. Alter. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2014.

The New Terrain of International Law: Courts, Politics, Rights. By Karen J. Alter. Princeton:... Global Governance 21 (2015), 493–497 BOOK REVIEWS The New Terrain of International Law: Courts, Politics, Rights. By Karen J. Alter. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2014. In her new book, Karen J. Alter challenges the premise that international courts (ICs) are merely “cipher[s] of state interests” (p. 19) and cannot pos- itively influence domestic and international politics. Although ICs are not backed by a central enforcer (pp. xviii, 3), Alter argues that they now have “new-style” design features (pp. 6–8) that permit them to have a greater impact (p. 5). Specifically, new-style ICs have compulsory jurisdiction (pp. 5, 68), meaning that cases will proceed despite the reluctance of the defen- dant state and that ICs will have “more opportunities to shift the meaning of the law in ways the defendant government may dislike but that individuals, groups, and other governments may actually prefer” (p. 7). New-style ICs also permit nonstate actors to initiate litigation (pp. 5, 68), a feature that not only makes litigation more likely, but also enhances the IC’s independence from governments (p. 7). These features increase the prospect of litigation, but how do they translate into compliance and positive change? The short answer is: with the help of “compliance constituencies”—actors who sup- port the ICs’ rulings and use their leverage to produce compliance (p. 19). For example, in the case of the World Trade Organization, the compliance constituency may be the states that are legally authorized to retaliate against states that violate rulings (p. 21). Alter uses eighteen case studies of ICs in action (all litigated cases where the defendant lost) to explore her broad claim and whether and under what cir- cumstances ICs are able to meaningfully influence governments (p. 24). The case studies are rich in detail and demonstrate that ICs are issuing decisions that affect both domestic and international politics. This intriguing and com- prehensive book should be of interest to international relations scholars as well as anyone interested in international courts. Reviewed by Yvonne Dutton Peaceland: Conflict Resolution and the Everyday Politics of International Intervention. By Séverine Autesserre. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014. Séverine Autesserre follows up her excellent The Trouble with the Congo with further investigation into the role of interveners in conflicts around the world. While the Democratic Republic of Congo is still her primary area of research, Autesserre added in depth qualitative research with interveners and local stakeholders in eight other conflict zones to understand everyday intervention. Rather than focus on grand theories of how and why third par- http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Global Governance: A Review of Multilateralism and International Organizations Brill

The New Terrain of International Law: Courts, Politics, Rights. By Karen J. Alter. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2014.

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Publisher
Brill
Copyright
Copyright © Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands
ISSN
1075-2846
eISSN
1942-6720
DOI
10.1163/19426720-02103009
Publisher site
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Abstract

Global Governance 21 (2015), 493–497 BOOK REVIEWS The New Terrain of International Law: Courts, Politics, Rights. By Karen J. Alter. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2014. In her new book, Karen J. Alter challenges the premise that international courts (ICs) are merely “cipher[s] of state interests” (p. 19) and cannot pos- itively influence domestic and international politics. Although ICs are not backed by a central enforcer (pp. xviii, 3), Alter argues that they now have “new-style” design features (pp. 6–8) that permit them to have a greater impact (p. 5). Specifically, new-style ICs have compulsory jurisdiction (pp. 5, 68), meaning that cases will proceed despite the reluctance of the defen- dant state and that ICs will have “more opportunities to shift the meaning of the law in ways the defendant government may dislike but that individuals, groups, and other governments may actually prefer” (p. 7). New-style ICs also permit nonstate actors to initiate litigation (pp. 5, 68), a feature that not only makes litigation more likely, but also enhances the IC’s independence from governments (p. 7). These features increase the prospect of litigation, but how do they translate into compliance and positive change? The short answer is: with the help of “compliance constituencies”—actors who sup- port the ICs’ rulings and use their leverage to produce compliance (p. 19). For example, in the case of the World Trade Organization, the compliance constituency may be the states that are legally authorized to retaliate against states that violate rulings (p. 21). Alter uses eighteen case studies of ICs in action (all litigated cases where the defendant lost) to explore her broad claim and whether and under what cir- cumstances ICs are able to meaningfully influence governments (p. 24). The case studies are rich in detail and demonstrate that ICs are issuing decisions that affect both domestic and international politics. This intriguing and com- prehensive book should be of interest to international relations scholars as well as anyone interested in international courts. Reviewed by Yvonne Dutton Peaceland: Conflict Resolution and the Everyday Politics of International Intervention. By Séverine Autesserre. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014. Séverine Autesserre follows up her excellent The Trouble with the Congo with further investigation into the role of interveners in conflicts around the world. While the Democratic Republic of Congo is still her primary area of research, Autesserre added in depth qualitative research with interveners and local stakeholders in eight other conflict zones to understand everyday intervention. Rather than focus on grand theories of how and why third par-

Journal

Global Governance: A Review of Multilateralism and International OrganizationsBrill

Published: Aug 19, 2015

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