How to Select and Develop Comparative International Law Case Studies
To develop arguments about international law we often must study how different countries act. International courts, casebook and textbook authors, and other scholars often reference the practices of foreign states. International lawyers are well aware of the need of comparison. What we lack is the toolkit to select and develop these comparative analyses. As a result, comparisons often focus on countries that share strong linguistic, cultural, legal, and political ties, which is not always analytically ideal. This chapter synthesizes key findings to the following questions, and applies them to fundamental questions in international law: How can we know whether we are cherry-picking examples that favor our preferred conclusions? When is it best to develop examples from countries that are very different from one’s own, and when should one focus on similar ones? How should one define similarity? And finally, which aspects of foreign systems are most relevant for particular inquiries?
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