Edited by Moshe Hirsch and Andrew Lang
Chapter 16: Social networks and the enforcement of international law
Social network analysis has a growing influence on legal scholarship. By investigating social connections between individuals or institutions, hypotheses about their behaviour can be raised and tested. One of the key debates in social network analysis is whether interactions within the network can help improve the information held by its members (the ‘Bandwidth Hypothesis’) or do they instead corrupt the information held by the members by amplifying their biases (the ‘Echo Hypothesis’). The chapter argues that the network of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), which try to enforce the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) on recalcitrant states, processes information well and complies with the Bandwidth Hypothesis. It draws on an earlier empirical study that used both quantitative and qualitative methods to show that NGOs focus most of their attention on severe violations and legally important cases. This study also showed that NGOs tend to focus on states that usually comply with international law rather than states that usually violate their international obligations. This finding has valuable implications for the understanding of reputational sanctions among states in the international arena.
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