Fears of peers? Explaining peer and public shaming in global governance

Date01 September 2019
Published date01 September 2019
Subject MatterArticles
Cooperation and Conflict
2019, Vol. 54(3) 335 –355
© The Author(s) 2019
Article reuse guidelines:
DOI: 10.1177/0010836718816729
Fears of peers? Explaining peer
and public shaming in global
Valentina Carraro , Thomas Conzelmann
and Hortense Jongen
This article conducts a comparative analysis of peer and public pressure in peer reviews among
states. Arguing that such pressure is one increasingly important form of shaming in global politics,
we seek to understand the extent to which five different peer reviews exert peer and public
pressure and how possible variation among them can be explained. Our findings are based on
responses to an original survey and semi-structured interviews among participants in the reviews.
We find that peer and public pressure exist to different degrees in the peer reviews under
study. Such differences cannot be explained by the policy area under review or the international
organization in which peer reviews are organized. Likewise, the expertise of the actors involved
in a peer review or perceptions of the legitimacy of peer review as a monitoring instrument do
not explain the variation. Instead, we find that institutional factors and the acceptance of peer and
public pressure among the participants in a peer review offer the best explanations.
Anti-corruption policy, human rights, international authority, naming and shaming, peer review,
trade and economic policy
In an interview with the Financial Times in 2011, Mark Pieth, then Chairman of the
Working Group on Bribery (WGB) in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and
Development (OECD), issued a warning to the UK. The WGB’s peer review, which
monitors states’ performance in combating foreign bribery, had exposed substantial
shortcomings and implementation delays in the UK’s legislation. In a public statement,
Pieth eventually warned that the WGB ‘would consider “robust options” should the leg-
islation be held up further, including the blacklisting of UK exporters’ (Boxell and Rigby,
Corresponding author:
Thomas Conzelmann, Maastricht University, PO Box 616, 6200 MD Maastricht, the Netherlands.
Email: t.conzelmann@maastrichtuniversity.nl
816729CAC0010.1177/0010836718816729Cooperation and ConflictCarraro et al.
336 Cooperation and Conflict 54(3)
2011). This instance of peer and public pressure, mobilized by the WGB and other states,
ultimately led the UK to speed up implementation of its Bribery Act.
In another episode, Thailand was faced with civil society pressure after it appeared in
front of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in May 2016. The UPR is a peer review
organized by the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council to improve the global
observance of human rights in all member states. In the UPR, states make recommenda-
tions to each other to address deficits in their human rights performance, which the
reviewed state can either accept or simply ‘take note of’, which is a euphemism for disa-
greeing. Following the UPR meeting for Thailand in May 2016, Thai civil society began
to publicly pressure the government to accept more recommendations than the country
had initially intended. In the end, the government accepted several additional recommen-
dations during the final adoption of its UPR report in September 2016 and committed to
a national dialogue concerning the implementation of outstanding recommendations
(UPR-info, 2016).
As the two episodes indicate, peer reviews among states can both ‘name’ and ‘shame’
transgressors. They can generate pressure by the ‘peers’, that is, the delegates and experts
from other states, as in the case of the WGB, or can create public pressure, as shown in
the UPR example (also see Nance, 2015; Tanaka, 2008; Terman and Voeten, 2017). The
increasing use of peer reviews as a tool for monitoring international agreements1 means
that naming and shaming through peer reviews may be observed more frequently in the
future, which makes the study of this instrument relevant. Not all peer reviews, however,
seem capable of exerting peer and public pressure on transgressors (Abebe, 2009; Greene
and Boehm, 2012); strong political dynamics enter the field (Carraro, 2017b; Gutterman
and Lohaus, 2018; Terman and Voeten, 2017), and some researchers even portray peer
reviews as generally incapable of generating effects on domestic policy (Schäfer, 2006).
This article discusses the potential of peer reviews among states as naming and
shaming instruments. While some authors have looked at individual cases (Abebe,
2009; Greene and Boehm, 2012; Nance, 2015; Terman and Voeten, 2017), we present
the first comparative analysis of naming and shaming in peer reviews. Based on an
analysis of five peer reviews in different international organizations (IOs) and policy
fields, we discuss the extent to which they exert peer and public pressure. We research
two peer reviews in the OECD, namely the WGB and the Economic and Development
Review Committee (EDRC); two UN peer reviews, namely the UPR of human rights
and the Implementation Review Mechanism (IRM) of the UN Convention against
Corruption (UNCAC); and the Trade Policy Review Mechanism (TPRM) of the World
Trade Organization (WTO).
The subsequent section reviews the literature on naming and shaming and on peer
reviews in IOs. It establishes that the peer and public pressure exerted by peer reviews
can be seen as instances of naming and shaming. Next, hypotheses are formulated about
factors that may affect the exertion of peer and public pressure in peer reviews.
Subsequently, we discuss our data, which include 85 semi-structured interviews, online
documents and 375 responses to an original survey distributed to IO staff, diplomats and
domestic civil servants participating in the five peer reviews.
We find that peer and public pressure are exerted to varying degrees in these mecha-
nisms: the WGB and UPR are best capable of organizing peer and public pressure on

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