International Adjudication and Public Opinion in Territorial Disputes: Evidence from a Survey Experiment Using Amazon Mechanical Turk

Florian Justwan 1  and Sarah K. Fisher 2
  • 1 University of Idaho, 875 Perimeter Drive, MS 3165, Moscow, USA
  • 2 Emory and Henry College, Politics, Law & International Relations, Emory, USA
Florian Justwan
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  • University of Idaho, Department of Politics and Philosophy, 875 Perimeter Drive, MS 3165, Moscow, USA
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and Sarah K. Fisher


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.

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