Hebrew University International Law Research Paper

The Sociological Dimension of International Law

19 PagesPosted: 2 Dec 2015Last revised: 7 Jan 2016

Date Written: November 30, 2015


This article is the introduction to the book 'Invitation to the Sociology of International Law' (OUP, 2015). International law is deeply embedded in various sociological factors and processes. Numerous international legal rules reflect and affect societal factors and processes such as norms, socialization, identity, and collective memory. Political and economic dimensions of international law are overlain with a sociological dimension, but this study focuses on the sociological dimension of international law. While the idea that international law and other societal processes are profoundly interlinked is not new, international legal literature habitually pays only scant attention to socio-cultural aspects of international law. In light of the underlying interrelationships between international law and other social factors, the book invites international law specialists to analyse international legal rules in their wider social context, and incorporate sociological tools into mainstream international law scholarship.

The book aims to introduce readers to some key sociological elements and major theoretical approaches, and illustrates their valuable contribution to international legal scholarship. To exemplify the properties of the sociological analysis, the book employs sociological tools to explore diverse topics in contemporary international law, including the World Trade Organization's (WTO) rules regulating regional trade agreements; legal fragmentation and the interaction between international investment law and human rights law; impartiality of adjudicators; compliance with and breach of international law; and the European Union's rules concerning economic and monetary cooperation.

Keywords: international law, international legal theory, sociology, international relations

Suggested Citation:Suggested Citation

Hirsch, Moshe, The Sociological Dimension of International Law (November 30, 2015). Introduction to the book Invitation to the Sociology of International Law (OUP, 2015); Hebrew University of Jerusalem Legal Research Paper 16-01. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2697187

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Behavioral Analysis of International Law: On Lawmaking and Nudging

28 PagesPosted: 3 Feb 2018Last revised: 19 Feb 2018

Date Written: January 26, 2018


This article examines the application of insights from behavioral economics to the area of international law. It reviews the unique challenges facing such application and demonstrates the contribution of behavioral findings to the understanding of lawmaking, the use of nudges, and states’ practices in the international arena.

In the sphere of lawmaking, the article first highlights the contribution of experimental game theory to understanding international customary law. It then analyzes the psychological mechanisms underpinning the advancement of treaty law through the use of deadlines, grandfather provisions, deferred implementation, and temporary arrangements. More generally, it provides insight into the processes through which international soft law evolves into hard law.

The article then argues that in the absence of a central legislative body or strong enforcement mechanisms, nudges (that is, low-cost, choice-preserving, behaviorally-informed regulatory tools) can play a particularly important role in influencing the behavior of states and other entities. The article describes the current use of nudges, such as opt-in and opt-out arrangements in multilateral treaties, goal settings, and international rankings—and calls for further employment of such means.

Finally, the article suggests that the extent to which states comply with international norms may be explained by phenomena such as loss aversion and the identifiability effect, and that further insight into states’ (non)compliance may be gained from the emerging research in behavioral ethics.

Keywords: international law, behavioral economics, rankings, default effect, international soft law, customary law, treaty law, nudges

JEL Classification: K, K32, K33, K37

Suggested Citation:Suggested Citation

Teichman, Doron and Zamir, Eyal, Behavioral Analysis of International Law: On Lawmaking and Nudging (January 26, 2018). Hebrew University of Jerusalem Legal Research Paper No. 18-8. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3110367

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