This article explores the effects of international adjudication on individual-level attitudes in territorial disputes. In particular, we investigate the micro-foundations for the argument that international court rulings provide political cover for governments settling disputes through unpopular territorial concessions. In an online survey conducted for this project, 494 Indian respondents were confronted with a fictitious foreign policy scenario. A randomized experiment embedded in the survey provides four major findings. First, international adjudication makes citizens more willing to support concessions in border disputes. Second, international courts influence the perceived fairness of comprosmise solutions. Third, legal conflict management mediates the emotional fallout of territorial concessions. Finally, we do not find any evidence for the claim that international adjudication reduces individual-level concerns over commitment problems. By focusing on individual-level data, this article provides an important contribution to the literature on international conflict management.
The Foreign Policy Scenario
Below is the foreign policy scenario presented to survey respondents:
In this section, we will present to you a hypothetical foreign policy scenario involving India and [China/Pakistan]. In order to ensure the scientific validity of this study, the following scenario will remain abstract and not involve any real-world border dispute. After describing the situation, we will ask you for your opinion about a few policy options
Five years ago, the United Kingdom turned over three small islands in the Bay of Bengal to India.
These islands are roughly equal in size and uninhabited.
Before the United Kingdom announced its decision to relinquish the islands, both India and [China/Pakistan] claimed that the islands were rightfully theirs.
[China/Pakistan] was outraged when the United Kingdom announced its decision to hand over the islands to India.
[China/Pakistan] has now officially asked India to give up control over all three islands and to hand them over to [China/Pakistan].
Dependent Variable: Support for Concessions
After a few weeks of internal deliberations, the Indian government has decided to give up two of the three islands to [China/ Pakistan] in order to resolve the dispute To what extent do you approve or disapprove of the Indian government’s decision to hand over two of the three islands to [China/Pakistan]?
An international court has ruled that India has to give up two of the three islands to [China/Pakistan]. After receiving this verdict, the Indian government has decided to give up two of the three islands to [China/Pakistan] in order to resolve the dispute. To what extent do you approve or disapprove of the Indian government’s decision to hand over two of the three islands to [China/Pakistan] following the ruling of the court?
Neither approve nor disapprove
Dependent Variables: Perceived Fairness
What is the fairest solution to this dispute?
India should keep all three islands.
India should give all three islands to [China/Pakistan].
India should keep two islands and give one island to [China/Pakistan].
India should keep one island and give two islands to [China/Pakistan].
None of those options.
I don’t know.
Dependent Variables: Likely Consequences of Concessions
What are the likely consequences of India’s decision to give up two of the three islands to [China/Pakistan]? Please tell me how likely each of these consequences is:
|Very unlikely||Somewhat unlikely||Neither likely not unlikely||Somewhat likely||Very likely|
|[China/Pakistan] will feel emboldened and make further territorial demands||1||2||3||4||5|
|You will feel anger following this decision.||1||2||3||4||5|
|You will consider it to be a national embarrassment.||1||2||3||4||5|
Age: In what year were you born?
Gender: Are you male or female?
Education: What is the highest level of education that you have received?
No formal education.
Incomplete Primary School.
Complete Primary School.
Incomplete Secondary School: technical/vocational type.
Complete Secondary School: technical/vocational type.
Incomplete Secondary School: university-preparatory type.
Complete Secondary School: university-preparatory type.
Some University-Level Education, without degree.
University-Level Education, with degree.
Income: How do you feel about your income these days? Which of the following statements comes closest to how you feel?
I am living comfortably on my present income.
I am coping on my present income.
I am finding it difficult on my present income.
I cannot survive on my present income.
Ideology: In politics people sometimes talk of “left” and “right.” Where would you place yourself on this scale, where 0 means the left and 10 means the right?
|0||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||10||88 Don’t know|
Interest in Politics: Some people seem to follow what is going on in government and public affairs most of the time, whether there’s an election going on or not. Others aren’t that interested. How about you? How frequently do you follow what’s going on in government and public affairs?
Most of the Time.
Some of the Time.
Only Now and Then.
Hardly at All.
Voting History: In talking to people about elections, we often find that a lot of people were not able to vote because they weren’t registered, they were sick, or they just didn’t have time. How about the parliamentary elections in 2014? Did you vote for a candidate during these elections?
Yes, I voted.
No, I didn’t vote.
I don’t remember.
Filter Question 1: Research in decision making shows that people, when making decisions and answering questions, prefer not to pay attention and minimize their effort as much as possible. Some studies show that over 50% of people don’t carefully read questions. If you are reading this question and have read all the other questions, please select the box marked “other.” Do not select “foreign policy,” “domestic politics,” or “conflict management.” Thank you for participating and taking the time to read through the questions carefully! What is this study about?
Filter Question 2: How are you feeling right now? Although we would like to know how you are feeling, please select the second option below so we know you are paying attention.
Filter Question 3: While watching television, have you ever had a fatal heart attack?
Some of the time
Only now and then
Hardly at all
|(Ordered) Logistic Regression||Model A1|
|Treatment (Court-Condition = 1)||1.092**|
|Gender (Male 1/0)||−0.401|
|Religion (Hindu = 1)||0.214|
|Interest in Politics||0.273*|
|Trust in China||−0.915**|
|Threat Perception (China)||−0.130|
|Constant||–||1.726 (1.802)||3.805 (1.931)||–||–||–|
|Cut Point 1||−4.200 (1.454)||–||–||0.181 (1.518)||−1.304 (1.421)||−0.576 (1.452)|
|Cut Point 2||−2.562 (1.439)||–||–||1.662 (1.503)||−0.203 (1.410)||1.121 (1.444)|
|Cut Point 3||−2.101 (1.437)||–||–||2.645 (1.502)||1.206 (1.408)||2.230 (1.446)|
|Cut Point 4||0.179 (1.445)||–||–||4.449 (1.520)||2.606 (1.418)||4.000 (1.461)|
|Number of Observations||241||241||214||240||241||241|
*p ≤ 0.05, **p ≤ 0.01 in a one-tailed test.
|(Ordered) Logistic Regression||Model A7|
|Treatment (Court-Condition = 1)||0.969**|
|Gender (Male 1/0)||−0.406|
|Religion (Hindu = 1)||−0.728|
|Interest in Politics||−0.014|
|Trust in Pakistan||−0.639**|
|Threat Perception (Pakistan)||−0.238|
|Constant||–||0.394 (2.190)||0.527 (2.201)||–||–||–|
|Cut Point 1||−3.492 (1.700)||–||–||−0.092 (1.545)||0.774 (1.557)||−1.315 (1.597)|
|Cut Point 2||−2.169 (1.690)||–||–||1.214 (1.531)||1.946 (1.553)||0.032 (1.589)|
|Cut Point 3||−1.687 (1.688)||–||–||2.010 (1.535)||2.960 (1.561)||0.929 (1.588)|
|Cut Point 4||0.968 (1.692)||–||–||3.677 (1.552)||4.196 (1.576)||2.345 (1.592)|
|Number of Observations||237||237||205||237||235||235|
*p ≤ 0.05, **p ≤ 0.01 in a one-tailed test.
Albin, C. (2003). Negotiating international cooperation: Global public goods and fairness. Review of International Studies, 29(3), 365–385.Search in Google Scholar
Allee, T. L. & Huth, P. (2006a). Legitimizing dispute settlement: International legal rulings as domestic political cover. American Political Science Review, 100(2), 219–234.Search in Google Scholar
Allee, T. L. & Huth, P. (2006b). The pursuit of legal settlements to territorial disputes. Conflict Management and Peace Science, 23(4), 285–307.Search in Google Scholar
Baghel, R. & Nüsser, M. (2015). Securing the heights: The vertical dimension of the Siachen conflict between India and Pakistan in the Eastern Karakoram. Political Geography, 48(1), 24–36.Search in Google Scholar
Bahree, M. (2009). Showdown on the subcontinent. World Policy Journal, 26(3), 41–49.Search in Google Scholar
Bandyopadhyaya, J. (2003). The making of India’s foreign policy: Determinants, institutions, processes, and personalities. New Delhi: Allied Publishers.Search in Google Scholar
Basrur, R. M. (2008). South Asia’s cold war: Nuclear weapons and conflict in comparative perspective. London, New York: Routledge.Search in Google Scholar
Beardsley, K. & Lo, N. (2014). Third-party conflict management and the willingness to make concessions. Journal of Conflict Resolution, 58(2), 363–392.Search in Google Scholar
Bercovitch, J. & Houston, A. (2000). Why do they do it like this? An analysis of the factors influencing mediation behavior in international conflicts. Journal of Conflict Resolution, 44(2), 170–202.Search in Google Scholar
Berinsky, A. J., Huber, G. A. & Lenz, G. S. (2012). Evaluating online labor markets for experimental research: Amazon.com’s Mechanical Turk. Political Analysis, 20(3), 351–368.Search in Google Scholar
Bueno de Mesquita, B., Morrow, J. D., Siverson, R. M. & Smith, A. (2004). Testing novel implications from the selectorate theory of war. World Politics, 56(2), 363–388.Search in Google Scholar
Buhrmester, M., Kwang, T. & Gosling, S. D. (2011). Amazon’s mechanical turk: a new source of inexpensive, yet high-quality, data? Perspectives on Psychological Science, 6(1), 3–5.Search in Google Scholar
Ganguly, S., Hellwig, T. & Thompson, W. R. (2017). The foreign policy attitudes of Indian elites: Variance, structure, and common denominators. Foreign Policy Analysis, 13(2), 416–438.Search in Google Scholar
Gent, S. & Shannon, M. (2010). The effectiveness of international arbitration and adjudication: Getting into a bind. Journal of Politics, 72(2), 366–380.Search in Google Scholar
Gent, S. & Shannon, M. (2011a). Bias and the effectiveness of third-party conflict management mechanisms. Conflict Management and Peace Science, 28(2), 124–144.Search in Google Scholar
Gent, S. & Shannon, M. (2011b). Decision control and the pursuit of binding conflict management: Choosing the ties that bind. Journal of Conflict Resolution, 55(5), 1–25.Search in Google Scholar
Gibler, D. M., Hutchison, M. L. & Miller, S. V. (2012). Individual identity attachments and international conflict: The importance of territorial threat. Comparative Political Studies, 45(12), 1655–1683.Search in Google Scholar
Global Times. (2012). Considered strategy needed in Diaoyu spat. Global Times online, . accessed August 20, 2016.Search in Google Scholar
Goodman, J. K., Cryder, C. E. & Cheema, A. (2013). Data collection in a flat world: The strengths and weaknesses of mechanical turk samples. Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, 26(3), 213–224.Search in Google Scholar
Hensel, P. R., Mitchell, S. M., Sowers, T. E. & Thyne, C. L. (2008). Bones of contention. comparing territorial, maritime, and river issues. Journal of Conflict Resolution, 52(1), 117–143.Search in Google Scholar
Horton, J., Rand, D. G. & Zeckhauser, R. J. (2011). The online laboratory: Conducting experiments in a real labor market. Experimental Economics, 14(3), 399–425.Search in Google Scholar
Hutchison, M. L. (2011). Territorial threat and the decline of political trust in Africa: A multilevel analysis. Polity, 43(4), 432–461.Search in Google Scholar
Huth, P. K. & Allee, T. L. (2002). The democratic peace and territorial conflict in the twentieth century. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.Search in Google Scholar
Huth, P., Croco, S. & Appel, B. (2011). Does international law promote the peaceful settlement of international disputes? Evidence from the study of territorial conflicts since 1945. American Political Science Review, 105(2), 415–436.Search in Google Scholar
Johns, R. & Davies, G. A. (2012). Democratic peace or clash of civilizations? Target states and support for war in Britian and the United States. The Journal of Politics, 74(4), 1038–1052.Search in Google Scholar
Justwan, F. (2017). Trusting publics: The impact of generalized social trust on the decision to pursue binding conflict management. Journal of Conflict Resolution, 61(3), 590–614.Search in Google Scholar
Kapstein, E. B. (2008). Fairness considerations in world politics: Lessons from international trade negotiations. Political Science Quarterly, 123(2), 229–245.Search in Google Scholar
Karim, S. M. (2014). Litigating law of the sea disputes using UNCLOS dispute settlement system. Klien, N. (Ed.), Litigating international law disputes: Weighing the options (pp. 260–284). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Search in Google Scholar
Levy, J. S., McKoy, M. K., Poast, P. & Wallace, G. P. R. (2015). Backing out or backing in? Commitment and consistency in audience costs theory. American Journal of Political Science, 59(4), 988–1001.Search in Google Scholar
Mason, W. & Suri, S. (2012). Conducting behavioral research on Amazon’s Mechanical Turk. Behavioral Research, 44(1), 1–23.Search in Google Scholar
Melin, M. M. & Grigorescu, A. (2014). Dispute resolution and escalation in a world of entangled territorial claims. Journal of Conflict Resolution, 58(6), 1085–1109.Search in Google Scholar
Miller, S. V. (forthcoming). Individual-level expectations of executive authority under territorial threat. Conflict Management and Peace Science. Available from: http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0738894215600384Search in Google Scholar
Mintz, A. & Geva, N. (1993). Why don’t democracies fight each other? An experimental study. Journal of Conflict Resolution, 37(3), 484–503.Search in Google Scholar
NYT. (2016). China’s Defiance in the South China Sea. New York Times, . accessed August 17, 2016.Search in Google Scholar
Paolacci, G., Chandler, J. & Ipeirotis, P. G. (2010). Running experiments on Amazon mechanical turk. Judgment and Decision Making, 5(5), 411–419.Search in Google Scholar
Powell, E. J. (2015). Islamic law states and peaceful resolution of territorial disputes. International Organization, 69(4), 777–708.Search in Google Scholar
Powell, E. J. & Wiegand, K. (2014). Strategic selection: Political and legal mechanisms of territorial dispute resolution. Journal of Peace Research, 51(3), 361–374.Search in Google Scholar
Raghavan, V. R. (2002). Siachen: Conflict without end. New Delhi, New York: Viking.Search in Google Scholar
Raymond, G. A. (1994). Democracies, disputes, and third-party intermediaries. Journal of Conflict Resolution, 38(1), 24–42.Search in Google Scholar
Sanfey, A. G., Rilling, J. K., Aronson, J. A., Nystrom, L. E. & Cohen, J. D. (2003). The neural basis of economic decision-making in the ultimatum game. Science, 300(5626), 1755–1758.Search in Google Scholar
Senese, P. D. & Vasquez, J. A. (2005). Assessing the steps to war. British Journal of Political Science, 35(4), 607–633.Search in Google Scholar
Shannon, M. (2009). Preventing war and providing the peace? International organizations and the management of territorial disputes. Conflict Management and Peace Science, 26(2), 144–163.Search in Google Scholar
Singh, N. (2012). How to tame your dragon: An evaluation of india’s foreign policy toward China. India Review, 11(3), 139–160.Search in Google Scholar
Tanaka, S. (2016). The microfoundations of territorial disputes: Evidence from opinion surveys in Japan. Conflict Management and Peace Science, 33(5), 516–538.Search in Google Scholar
Times of India. (2015). Govt bows to Congress, tweaks Bangladesh land deal. Times of India online, . accessed March 29, 2017.Search in Google Scholar
Tir, J. (2010). Territorial diversion: Diversionary theory of war and territorial conflict. Journal of Politics, 72(2), 413–425.Search in Google Scholar
Tomz, M. (2007). Domestic audience costs and international relations: An experimental approach. International Organization, 61(4), 821–840.Search in Google Scholar
Tomz, M. & Weeks, J. (2013). Public opinion and the democratic peace. American Political Science Review, 107(4), 849–865.Search in Google Scholar
Wallensteen, P. & Svensson, I. (2014). Talking peace: International mediation in armed conflicts. Journal of Peace Research, 51(2), 315–327.Search in Google Scholar
Wiegand, K. E. (2011). Enduring territorial disputes: Strategies of bargaining, coercive diplomacy, and settlement. Athens: University of Georgia Press.Search in Google Scholar
Wiegand, K. & Powell, E. J. (2011). Past experience, quest for the best forum, and peaceful attempts to resolve territorial disputes. Journal of Conflict Resolution, 55(1), 33–59.Search in Google Scholar
©2017 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston