Examining state compliance with the International Court of Justice
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As the world’s largest international adjudicator, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) provides for an interesting and appropriate forum to examine the issue of state compliance. Depending on the design or enforcement probability of a court, states may have their hands tied when choosing whether or not to comply with a third party ruling. However, the ICJ lacks an effective institutional enforcement mechanism from which to compel compliant state behavior with Court decisions. If an organization then fails in its ability to act as an effective enforcer of its own rules and regulations, what factors influence states to comply? To answer this central question, I look at the decisions handed down by the ICJ, and the attributes of the disputing parties (such as political, economic and military characteristics) as predictors of compliance. Existing ICJ studies have failed to adequately address how these state characteristics may impact or condition the compliance choice for states. I contend that compliance may be determined by a state’s ability to sustain the requirements of an ICJ ruling, based upon their unique domestic attributes; or alternatively compliance may be explained by the relative difference in material capabilities between ICJ disputants. In order to test my hypotheses I created an original dataset that contains each ICJ stipulation within a given decision, various state characteristics (such as regime, legal system, economic, military, and case specific factors) and whether or not compliance occurred. This relationship was tested both monadically and dyadically to determine if states consider their relationship with the disputant in the compliance choice, or if they make this decision more in isolation. The results of this study reveal several significant findings that increase our understanding of the capabilities of international institutions and also of the factors that are likely to produce compliance with ICJ decisions.