My interdisciplinary research draws on international relations and international law to address questions broadly relating to international cooperation, and regional and global governance.
- One research agenda focuses on the politics of international courts, which have expanded in number and scope in recent decades, and operate across various issue areas, including trade, regional integration, and human rights. I am researching international courts’ “non-judicial” forms of agency and outreach to their constituencies across all permanent international courts, based on archival and interview research at a range of global and regional courts, such as the International Court of Justice, International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, International Criminal Court, East African Court of Justice, and African Court on Human and Peoples Rights.
- Another research agenda focuses on African regional responses to global norms. I have researched African regional organizations’ responses to the International Criminal Court’s implementation of international criminal justice, including the proposed “African Criminal Court” (Malabo Protocol), and I am beginning to analyze the African Union’s regionalization of global human rights treaties more generally.
- I have also begun researching Canada’s engagement with international human rights institutions, including the Inter-American Human Rights System.
Some of the outputs of this research are listed below.
“The African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights” in Jessie Hohmann and Daniel Joyce (eds), International Law’s Objects (Oxford University Press, 2019). Draft version available via SSRN and Academia.edu.
“International Courts’ Socialization Strategies for Actual and Perceived Performance” in Theresa Squatrito, Oran Young, Geir Ulfstein, and Andreas Føllesdal (eds), The Performance of International Courts and Tribunals (Cambridge University Press, 2018). Draft version available via SSRN and Academia.edu.
“Intermediary Complexity in Regulatory Governance: The International Criminal Court’s Use of NGOs in Regulating International Crimes,” The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, vol. 670, no. 1, 2017. Final version available for download here. Draft version available via SSRN and Academia.edu.
The Foundations of International Justice: International Courts and Their Constituencies (overview paper, “How International Courts Promote Compliance,” received the International Studies Association’s 2014 Lawrence S. Finkelstein Award)
“Africa versus the International Criminal Court: The Strategy of Regionalizing International Criminal Justice” (received the British International Studies Association (BISA) African Affairs Paper Prize and International Studies Association Stephen C. Poe Award)
“Re-constructing International Crime and Criminal Responsibility through the African Criminal Court” (with Anne Holthoefer)
“Beyond Adjudication: International Courts’ Agency and Entrepreneurship in Governance”
“The Governor’s Dilemma in International Courts” (based on “The Governor’s Dilemma in Indirect Governance” Project, led by Kenneth Abbott, Philipp Genschel, Duncan Snidal, and Bernhard Zangl)
“Intermediary Complexity in Regulatory Governance: The International Criminal Court’s Use of NGOs in Regulating International Crimes,” The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, vol. 670, March 2017.
While regulatory governance can be theorized as a three-party game in which regulators use intermediaries to influence targets, I show how regulatory intermediaries can, through delegation and orchestration, engage their own “sub-intermediaries” to increase their capacity for fulfilling their regulatory mandates, and their influence on regulators and targets. I elucidate how the International Criminal Court (ICC)—the key intermediary in the regulatory regime for international crimes—has used NGOs’ advocacy, expertise, and operational capacities to compensate for its limited capabilities. Through NGO intermediaries, the ICC has aimed to increase its ability to prosecute, punish, and thus regulate international crimes; amplify its influence on state regulators and potential perpetrators; and improve the overall regulation of international crimes.
“International Courts’ Socialization Strategies for Actual and Perceived Performance” in Theresa Squatrito, Oran Young, Geir Ulfstein, and Andreas Føllesdal (eds), The Performance of International Courts (Cambridge University Press, 2018).
Abstract: This chapter presents a framework for understanding how international courts’ (ICs’) use socialization strategies to influence their performance. ICs can influence both their actual and perceived performance through internal and external socialization strategies. ICs can aim to improve their actual performance by socializing actors into ICs’ norms, rules, and procedures, and essentially clarifying their appropriate roles within international courts’ legal regimes. Internally, ICs improve their actual performance by socializing their judges and administrative officials into ICs’ norms, rules, and procedures. In addition, various dimensions of ICs’ actual performance are contingent on other actors’ behaviour within ICs’ legal regimes. ICs can therefore use external socialization strategies to align these actors’ standards of legitimate, appropriate behaviour with ICs’ norms, rules, and procedures, and thus improve ICs’ actual performance. ICs’ external socialization strategies can also be directed towards influencing actors’ perceptions of IC performance. As perceptions of performance are highly subjective and vary considerably among ICs’ various stakeholders, ICs can influence their perceived performance by disseminating particular normative standards for evaluating their performance. A comparative analysis of all twenty-three permanent, operational ICs reveals the prevalence of and variation in ICs’ internal and external socialization strategies, which influence ICs’ actual and perceived performance. Socialization is thus a key means by which ICs aim to improve various dimensions of their performance, as well as their stakeholders’ perceptions of it.
“The African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights” in Jessie Hohmann and Daniel Joyce (eds), International Law’s Objects (Oxford University Press, 2018).
Abstract: This chapter examines international courts’ premises as objects of international law through the case of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights. When creating an international court, states become legally obligated to supply its physical premises—a functional and symbolic resource that underpins the court’s legal authority and influence. Drawing on archival evidence, this chapter analyses the African Court’s significant challenges in securing this important resource from political actors within the African Union and Tanzania, the court’s host state. This analysis shows that there can be a considerable gap between states’ commitment and compliance, and between legal ambition and political reality. This gap, however, can mobilize court officials to assert their needs for adequate resources and, more generally, the significance of their mandate. Examining international courts’ premises can, therefore, elucidate the tensions between law and politics embedded in international justice specifically and international law more broadly.
“Africa versus the International Criminal Court: The Strategy of Regionalizing International Criminal Justice”
Abstract: African states’ opposition to the International Criminal Court (ICC) has escalated over time, culminating in proposals for creating regional criminal courts in the African Union (AU) and East African Community (EAC). This paper explains how and why African states have adopted this strategy of regionalizing international criminal justice, elucidating the institutional dynamics of Africa-ICC relations and, more generally, how African states’ dissatisfaction with a multilateral institution can promote regional-institution building. It adapts the theory of “institutional choice” to show how, after strategies for working within or changing a multilateral institution prove unviable, coalitions of dissatisfied states can turn to regional institution-building as a last resort for countering a contested multilateral institution. Thus, the paper shows how African states, after initially pursuing strategies of using and changing the ICC, eventually shifted their focus to pursuing proposals for regional criminal courts in the AU and EAC, as alternatives to the ICC. The paper’s comparative analysis of the AU and EAC initiatives—where states successfully adopted the AU proposal, but abandoned the EAC proposal—provides insights regarding not only the politics of Africa-ICC relations, but also the opportunities and constraints of regional institution-building in Africa.
“Beyond Adjudication: International Courts’ Agency and Entrepreneurship in Governance”
Abstract: While existing accounts of international courts overwhelmingly focus on their role in interpreting and applying international law and adjudicating international disputes, this paper makes the case for more broadly theorizing international courts’ agency and entrepreneurship for governing actors in their legal regimes. It conceptualizes international courts as international organizations with both “judicial” and “non-judicial” activities (e.g., diplomacy, training, outreach) underpinning their agency and influence over state officials, national judges, lawyers, the general public, etc. The judicial/non-judicial distinction, furthermore, is crucial for explaining international courts’ entrepreneurship and expansion of their governance activities. With adjudication, international judges operate within considerable political and legal constraints, but in courts’ non-judicial area of activity, officials are far less constrained and have greater scope for entrepreneurship. To empirically evaluate this claim, the paper analyzes an original dataset coded from the founding treaties, jurisprudence, reports, and websites of all twenty-three permanent, operational international courts. It compares the activities states have designed international courts to perform with the activities international courts have developed through their own entrepreneurship. While there is variation in whether and how international courts have expanded their activities, it is clear that international courts primarily rely on their non-judicial activities for increasing their means of governing actors in their legal regimes. These findings support moving beyond the focus on adjudication and more broadly theorizing international courts’ agency, including both its judicial and non-judicial dimensions.