International Law and Foreign Policy Decision-Making

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  • Author(s):
  • Editors:
    • Cameron Thies
  • Included in: The Oxford Encyclopedia of Foreign Policy Analysis
  • Published: May 31, 2017
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
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Policy-makers regularly face decisions pertaining to the making of international law and compliance with international law. International relations scholars have attempted to explain the broad patterns that emerge from such decisions, approaching international law-making and international legal compliance from perspectives of power, interests, and identity. These explanations reflecting growing interdisciplinary connections between the study of international law and international relations. Although there have been fewer interdisciplinary connections between the study of international law and models of foreign policy decision-making, much of the existing international relations literature pertaining to international law contains mechanisms that involve or potentially could involve domestic foreign policy actors and institutions. Closer examination of each of the main international relations approaches to international law-making and international legal compliance suggests corresponding models of foreign policy decision-making. Nonetheless, further work remains to develop these connections and to incorporate transnational actors and processes into the analysis of foreign policy decision-making. Such work has both scholarly and practical relevance, insofar as foreign policy decision-making takes place in an increasingly legalized environment even as the post-World War II international order faces increasing challenges from nonliberal states, raising pertinent questions law-making and legal compliance as post-Cold War foreign policy issues.

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