The Yale Law Journal

VOLUME
121
2011-2012
NUMBER
2
November 2011
252-469
Article

Outcasting: Enforcement in Domestic and International Law

Oona Hathaway & Scott J. Shapiro

121 Yale L.J. 252 (2011).

This Article offers a new way to understand the enforcement of domestic and international law that we call “outcasting.” Unlike the distinctive method that modern states use to enforce their law, outcasting is nonviolent: it does not rely on bureaucratic organizations, such as police or militia, that employ physical force to maintain order. Instead, outcasting involves denying the disobedient the benefits of social cooperation and membership. Law enforcement through outcasting in domestic law can be found throughout history—from medieval Iceland and classic canon law to modern-day public law. And it is ubiquitous in modern international law, from the World Trade Organization to the Universal Postal Union to the Montreal Protocol. Across radically different subject areas, international legal institutions use others (usually states) to enforce their rules and typically deploy outcasting rather than physical force. Seeing outcasting as a form of law enforcement not only helps us recognize that the traditional critique of international law—that it is not enforced and is therefore both ineffective and not real law—is based on a limited and inaccurate understanding of law enforcement. It also allows us to understand more fully when and how international law matters.