Research Handbooks on Globalisation and the Law series
Edited by Sabino Cassese
Chapter 11: The enforcement of global decisions
Are global rules and decisions enforceable? The answer depends on the chosen definition of enforcement. In a narrow sense, enforcement refers to the coercive measures adopted by an executive branch to compel compliance with the law (or with court judgments). Pursuant to this meaning, which is familiar to national law, enforcement requires an executive apparatus, which exercises coercive powers on behalf of the entire community. If this definition were to be applied, it would be necessary to conclude that international regimes generally lack enforcement mechanisms, and this chapter could end here: in the global legal order, there is no bureaucratic organization that is capable of forcing States to comply by coercive means. This is why some scholars have traditionally considered international law as not truly law. If a more comprehensive concept of enforcement is adopted, one that includes all the possible means with which States are somehow compelled to comply, the issue changes dramatically and several different tools and procedures become available for analysis. In this broader sense, the means of enforcement can influence States’ behaviour not through physical force, but through other channels (e.g. diplomatic means, outcasting and countermeasures).
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