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Deciding to Defer: The Importance of Fairness in Resolving Transnational Jurisdictional Conflicts

  • Asif Efrat and Abraham L. Newman

Abstract

The cross-border movement of people, goods, and information frequently results in legal disputes that come under the jurisdiction of multiple states. The principle of deference—acceptance of another state's exercise of legal authority—is one mechanism to manage such jurisdictional conflicts. Despite the importance of deference in international law and cooperation, little is known about the causes of variation in its use. In this article, we develop a theory of deference that focuses on the role that domestic institutions and norms play in ensuring procedural and substantive fairness. We test this theory in an original data set concerning accession practices in the Hague Convention on International Child Abduction. Our findings offer considerable support for the idea that states evaluate partners on the likelihood that they can offer a fair legal process. Exploring empirically the efforts against parental child abduction, we offer a nuanced account of the link between domestic institutions and norms and international cooperation. This account suggests that greater attention should be paid to the use of deference as a mechanism to manage the conflicts posed by globalization.

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Deciding to Defer: The Importance of Fairness in Resolving Transnational Jurisdictional Conflicts

  • Asif Efrat and Abraham L. Newman

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