This article documents the rise of nonconsensual international lawmaking and analyzes its consequences for the treaty design, treaty participation, and treaty adherence decisions of nation states. Grounding treaties upon the formal consent of states has numerous advantages for a decentralized and largely anarchic international legal system that suffers from a pervasive “compliance deficit.” But consent also has real costs, including the inability to ensure that all nations affected by transborder problems join treaties that seek to resolve those problems. This “participation deficit” helps explain why some international rules bind countries without their acceptance or approval. Such rules have wide applicability. But they can also increase sovereignty costs, exacerbating the compliance deficit. Nonconsensual international lawmaking thus appears to create an insoluble tradeoff between increasing participation and decreasing compliance. This article explains that such a tradeoff is not inevitable. Drawing on recent examples from multilateral efforts to prevent transnational terrorism, preserve the global environment, and protect human rights, the article demonstrates that the game-theoretic structure of certain cooperation problems, together with their institutional and political context, create self-enforcing equilibria in which compliance is a dominant strategy. In these situations, nonconsensual lawmaking reduces both the participation and the compliance deficits. In other issue areas, by contrast, problem structure and context do not affect the tradeoff between the two deficits, and the incentive to defect remains unaltered. Analyzing the differences among these issue areas helps to identify the conditions under which nonconsensual lawmaking increases the welfare of all states.
This Article uses an interdisciplinary approach to explain why the International Labor Organization (ILO) has been given surprisingly short shrift in recent debates over the role of IOs in addressing the many transborder collective action problems that globalization has fostered. I review the ILO's past and its present with two broad objectives in mind. First, I seek to correct a misperception among international lawyers and legal scholars that the ILO is a weak and ineffective institution. The organization's effectiveness in creating and monitoring international labor standards has fluctuated widely during its nearly ninety-year existence. Over the last decade, however, the ILO - led by the Director General and the ILO Office - has ushered in a period of innovation and reform, narrowing the organization's mandate to emphasize universal compliance with a core group of fundamental labor rights. These developments - many of which are unknown outside the organization - reveal that the ILO has learned from successful strategies of other IOs and from its own past mistakes. They also cast doubt on the widely held view that international bureaucracies seek to expand their mandates to increase their authority over member states. A second objective of the Article is to analyze the under-studied issue of how IOs change and to assess three social science theories - (1) rational design; (2) neofunctionalism; and (3) historical institutionalism - that seek to explain how change occurs. A historical study of the ILO provides two opportunities to evaluate these competing frameworks and to consider the under-examined role of IO officials in promoting change. First, the four major phases of the ILO's existence - its founding in 1919, the interwar years, the decades following World War II, and post-Cold War globalization - offer discrete domains within which to assess the theories' comparative explanatory power. The second opportunity for theoretical assessment relates to the influence of the ILO's past on recently adopted reforms. None of the theories would have expected ILO officials to revitalize the organization, more than seventy-five years after its birth, by narrowing and refocusing its authority rather than expanding it.
The article critically assesses the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) as a potential model for solving the immense legal challenges presented by transborder activity. Inaugurated in late 1999 by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the UDRP creates a fast, inexpensive online mechanism for trademark owners to recapture domain names held by persons who, in bad faith, register and use domain names that are confusingly similar to those marks. At present, the UDRP applies only to a narrow segment of disputes between trademark owners and domain name registrants. But the UDRP has been heralded by some as the model for a new non-national approach to lawmaking and dispute settlement applicable to a broader set of legal issues that transcend national borders. In this article, we describe the conditions that led to the UDRP's formation and consider whether the UDRP can and should be replicated elsewhere. The process by which the UDRP was created, and the way in which it is structured, departs significantly from preexisting approaches to international lawmaking and dispute settlement. The UDRP is the product not of national legislation nor an international treaty, but rather of a web of contractual obligations imposed by a private, non-profit corporation with a monopoly over a valuable resource. Through its agreements with the U.S. Department of Commerce, ICANN serves as the gatekeeper for anyone seeking to acquire the most commercially valuable internet addresses. Exclusive control of access to the root server enables ICANN to dictate the terms and conditions for domain name ownership. This technological control also facilitates enforcement of UDRP panel decisions compelling domain name registrars to cancel ownership of contested domain names or transfer them from registrants to trademark owners. The UDRP deviates from preexisting lawmaking and dispute settlement paradigms in other ways that make its advantages considerable (and which may make it attractive for replication). For example, the UDRP is a hybrid dispute settlement system. It contains an amalgam of elements from three distinct decision making paradigms - judicial, arbitral and ministerial - and it draws inspiration from international, supranational, and national legal systems. The UDRP thus reveals how dispute settlement structures can be tailored to the needs of new technologies and new types of legal conflicts. The UDRP is also non-national. Neither its substantive content nor its prescriptive force necessarily depends upon the laws, institutions, and enforcement mechanisms of any single nation-state or treaty regime. It thus suggests ways to bypass the often slow and cumbersome mechanisms of national and international lawmaking and to fulfil the demand for effective dispute settlement mechanisms that, like so much current social activity, transcend national borders. Even assuming the UDRP can be applied to other situations where the conditions of monopolistic technological control do not subsist, however, we do not believe that it should be uncritically extended to other contexts without first questioning how non-national systems ought to be structured. In particular, while we applaud the effort to construct a non-national model that draws upon but is not constrained by existing paradigms, the current iteration of that model fails to incorporate appropriate checking mechanisms to control the scope and pace of lawmaking and the limited powers granted to dispute settlement decisionmakers. Moreover, the tensions between national and non-national values may be more difficult to reconcile in other settings; cybersquatting, in contrast, was universally condemned, and thus competing national values were less frequently implicated. We seek to identify these and other variables that should guide the authors of new checking mechanisms for new non-national structures.