Public international law scholarship opens up ever more to social science in order to answer a broad range of questions relating to treaty design, customary international law, soft law, international organizations, legal interpretation and substantive international norms. Whereas the rational choice approach to international law has been largely accepted in legal scholarship and international relations theory, challenges to the rational choice paradigm by cognitive research and behavioral economics have hitherto not been systematically explored in international law.
Nevertheless, behavioral law and economics has been successfully applied to domestic legal issues and is now widely accepted and increasingly used in public policy and regulatory design. Cognitive psychological insights have furthermore been used by international relations (IR) scholarship under the heading of political psychology. However, the latter studies do not take into account international norms and are mostly confined to individual actors and security constellations.
The Symposium will build on all those insights and explore the benefits and challenges of extending the behavioral approach to public international law: the psychology of international law. With a view towards the “unity of knowledge” (E.O. Wilson), it seems time to draw on those different understandings to further refine our knowledge of the functioning and rules of international law. This is fruitful for the design of international institutions and treaties as well as law application and legal procedures in international law.