Publications by Author: Brewster, Rachel

Brewster, Rachel. 2009. “The limits of reputation on compliance.” International Law Reporter. International Law Reporter. Publisher's Version Abstract

This short paper is a response to Andrew Guzman's book, How International Law Works. Guzman presents a novel synthesis of the IR approaches to IL by arguing that a state's concern with its reputation is one most important source of compliance with international law. But the book's approach to reputation is not up to the task of explaining compliance. In discussion the book's shortcomings, I ask to whom the relevant reputation belongs. Guzman relies on notions of the state's reputation, but this assignment is a problem for a causation analysis because governments (who make the compliance decisions) will not fully internalize the state's reputation. In addition, I discuss the methodological problems in Guzman's approach. The book provides for only a very loose means of assessing reputational costs, even as a conceptual matter. Without such means of assessment, any claim about the power of reputation remains non-falsifiable and therefore has less theoretical force.

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Brewster, Rachel. 2009. “Unpacking the State's Reputation”. Abstract

International law scholars debate when international law matters to states, how it matters, and whether we can improve compliance. One of the few areas of agreement is that fairly robust levels of compliance can be achieved by tapping into states’ concerns with their reputation. The logic is intuitively appealing: a state that violates international law develops a bad reputation, which leads other states to exclude the violator from future cooperative opportunities. Anticipating a loss of future gains, states will often comply with international rules that are not in their immediate interests. The level of compliance that reputation can sustain depends, however, on how the government decision makers value the possibility of being excluded from future cooperative agreements. This Article examines how governments internalize reputational costs to the “state” and how audiences evaluate the predictive value of violating governments’ actions. The Article concludes that international law’s current approach to reputation is counterproductive, because it treats reputation as an error term that makes rationalists’ claims invariably correct.

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