Sunday, May 6, 2012

Law and Diplomacy

Peter Spiro directs us to Ian Hurd, "Law and the Practice of Diplomacy," calling it
"maybe the only piece of IR theory that I've read that really seems to get the dynamic element of international law.  It also centers international law to what I suspect is an unprecedented extent, as both a "resource" for and a constraint on state actors.  "[S]tates are limited in their agency by the legal resources that they find around them. Their strategic behaviour around diplomacy and international law is therefore tightly structured by the legal environment. This is not a domain of free choice."
Quoting from Hurd's article:
[t]he social nature of diplomacy ensures that these changes are never fully under the control of any single actor, and that the strategic direction of diplomatic activism is always uncertain. The meaning of precedents depends on how states and others choose to use them. As a social practice, diplomacy has these three formal qualities: sociality, statecentrism, and a productive effect.
It is a law and society approach to the question of international law,  saying the positive question (do states comply) is the wrong one; rather we need to "look at how the actors use the rules, and how the rules shape the actors and their possibilities."

Spiro likes the article but dislikes that it brackets non-state actors, who "are obvious players on the international stage."  He gives a few examples: "the Kimberley Process and the Equator Principles, in which NGOs and corporations are the key actors ...[when] Greenpeace goes after the Forest Stewardship Council about logging in the Congo or Human Rights Watch presses the International Olympic Committee on Saudi discrimination against women."  For international tax the list would include the well established influence of OECD's Business & Industry Advisory Council (BIAC) and the International Chamber of Commerce on the development of international tax norms, and perhaps the relative newcomers Action Aid and Christian Aid, with respect to the emerging issue of country-by-country reporting.   

No comments:

Post a Comment