The Role of Justice in Compliance Behavior: Germany’s Early Membership in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Regime

  • Marco FeyEmail author
  • Aviv Melamud
  • Harald Müller
Part of the Studien des Leibniz-Instituts Hessische Stiftung Friedens- und Konfliktforschung book series (SLIHSFK)


Does the perceived justice or injustice of an institution affect whether states comply with its rules? There is an extensive literature that studies states’ compliance behavior. But the potential impact of justice concerns on compliance has not yet been sufficiently explored — even though justice has been demonstrated to play an important role in international negotiations and the creation of international institutions. The chapter examines the relationship between the two concepts and posits that actors’ justice considerations with a regime influence their compliance behavior. To illustrate the importance of including justice considerations in the study of compliance, we investigate West Germany’s behavior as a member of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty during the 1960–80s. West Germany had three major grievances with what it perceived as an unjust regime: The discriminatory nature of the distinction between nuclear weapon states and non-nuclear weapon states; the unequal obligations assigned to these two groups; and the disadvantages that resulted for non-nuclear weapons states from these obligations. These concerns, then, caused contested compliance and regime conflict. The case illuminates the central role of justice concerns for compliance and thus the need to broaden our understanding of compliance and its complexity in both conceptual and practical terms.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Federal Foreign Office (Auswärtiges Amt)BerlinGermany
  2. 2.Peace Research Institute Frankfurt (PRIF/HSFK)Frankfurt am MainGermany

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