Compliance through Collegiality: Peer Review in International Law

by Georgios Dimitropoulos

MPILux Working Paper 3 (2014)

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ABSTRACT: Through the process of globalization international law has evolved into a law of global governance.  At the same time, horizontal interaction between the states still constitutes a major part of international law. The “governance,” and the “traditional” understanding of international law fail to capture the real picture of the law beyond the state. This paper is an attempt to bring these two approaches together under the rubric of “horizontal governance.” Both a product and a promoter of horizontal governance are so called “peer reviews.” In international law, peer review is a monitoring of a country’s practices in a particular field by a team composed of staff from foreign agencies, and organized under the auspices of an international organization. International peer review operates as a dispute prevention mechanism substituting more classical compliance monitoring systems, and leading to the horizontal accountability of the involved actors. The major reason for the proliferation of the peer review mechanism is its potential to achieve state compliance in a collegial, and sovereignty-respecting way: it substitutes command with acceptability, sanctions with peer pressure, and enforcement with learning.

KEYWORDS: compliance, global governance, peer accountability, peer review, international dispute resolution, International Atomic Energy Agency, Financial Action Task Force, NEPAD, Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, Anti-Bribery Convention.