Ritter, Emily Hencken and Scott Wolford. 2012. Bargaining and the Effectiveness of International Criminal Regimes. Journal of Theoretical Politics 24 (2): 151-173.


Though international institutions lack the independent ability to punish noncompliance, states sustain cooperation themselves because fixed borders and interdependence allow them to target one another for punishment. In contrast, international criminal courts and tribunals (ICTs) can enforce rulings once suspects are in custody, but they lack the independent power of capture, leaving them unable to punish alleged criminals and therefore deter crime. We analyze a game between an ICT and a suspect to assess the potential of pre-arrest bargaining as a solution to the problem of capture. We show that ICTs that bargain with fugitives will be able to secure their surrender and administer justice, though this comes at the cost of incentivizing some crime. Further, those courts least able to secure their suspects’ capture will, surprisingly, be the most willing to issue warrants. International institutions may thus be able to achieve compliance even when faced with uncooperative member states.

Applications of this work:

Click here to read a post on how this research ties to Seif al-Islam Qaddafi’s interactions with the ICC.

Click here to read a post on how this research ties to the possibility of clemency in exchange for al Assad’s cooperation with a peaceful solution for Syria.


2008 Annual Meeting of the Midwest Political Science Association, Chicago, IL, April 3-6, 2008

Bargaining and the Effectiveness of International Criminal Regimes

with Scott Wolford,

University of Texas

Click here for the article.

photo: L.R.A. leader Joseph Kony with children, 1995. Photograph by Billie O'Kadameri.