Reconceptualising Compliance: Street-Level Bureaucrats and the Implementation of International Law

dc.contributor.advisor Goodwin-Gill, Guy
dc.contributor.advisor Byrnes, Andrew
dc.contributor.advisor Higgins, Claire Jefferies, Regina 2022-03-14T23:07:45Z 2022-03-14T23:07:45Z 2021
dc.description.abstract Harold Koh presents Transnational Legal Process (‘TLP’) as a discursive theory of international legal compliance whereby a variety of actors, in a variety of fora, make, interpret, and internalise rules of transnational law. Yet despite its process-orientation, TLP possesses a decidedly top-down character, suggesting that state behaviour trends towards legal compliance over time through a process of interaction, interpretation, and norm-internalisation, while largely ignoring the influence of street-level bureaucrats in interpreting, framing, and applying the law. If TLP generates compliance with legal norms over time, why do non-compliant legal practices persist when they should be corrected in jurisgenerative fora? And, if norm development is a discursive process, how might assumptions about the willingness of courts to preserve liberal conceptions of rights blind us to less-visible logics that structure policy debates and limit the range of legal action? The thesis develops a more nuanced understanding of 'norm internalisation' by examining implementation of the norm of non-refoulement in case studies of Australia and the United States. The work examines the process of ‘entry screening’ asylum seekers at Australian airports and the emergence of the practice of ‘metering’ asylum seekers at the US-Mexico border to advance a theoretical approach to international legal compliance that builds upon two major critiques of TLP theory: that it does not adequately identify the actors and processes of norm ‘internalization’ and that it does not sufficiently identify and describe norm creation processes. This thesis demonstrates that: (1) TLP’s internalisation thesis fails to account for the practices of street-level bureaucrats, who often prioritize competing norms, discourses, and non-compliant practices that influence or are assimilated into formal sources of law; and that (2) relational sites within the network of actors responsible for implementing norms present countless opportunities for contesting meaning and normative frames. This research reveals an overreliance on the role of courts in preserving the norm of non-refoulement and highlights that how we understand sites of lawmaking and legal contestation has real implications for people’s lives, for questions about how subsequent state practice might impact treaty interpretation, how obligations are prioritised in conflicting treaty regimes, or how international organisations interpret international law and where they make interventions.
dc.language English
dc.language.iso en
dc.publisher UNSW, Sydney
dc.rights CC BY 4.0
dc.subject.other Legal Theory
dc.subject.other International Refugee Law
dc.subject.other International Legal Compliance
dc.subject.other Transnational Legal Process
dc.subject.other Australia
dc.subject.other United States
dc.subject.other Sociolegal Studies
dc.subject.other Social Network
dc.title Reconceptualising Compliance: Street-Level Bureaucrats and the Implementation of International Law
dc.type Thesis
dcterms.accessRights embargoed access
dcterms.rightsHolder Jefferies, Regina
dspace.entity.type Publication
unsw.accessRights.uri 2024-03-13
unsw.description.embargoNote Embargoed until 2024-03-13
unsw.relation.faculty Law & Justice School of Global and Public Law School of Global and Public Law
unsw.subject.fieldofresearchcode 4803 International and comparative law
unsw.thesis.degreetype PhD Doctorate
Resource type