Publications

Rapp, K. (2021). Social Media and Genocide: The Case for Home State Responsibility. Forthcoming,  Journal of Human Rights

Who bears responsibility when social media platforms are used to incite genocide? While courts and scholarship have recognized the role of mass media in past mass atrocities, social media poses a unique challenge. Its transnational nature, with companies and infrastructure often located in different jurisdictions from where the crimes are committed, makes determining responsibility challenging. This article argues that the prohibition of genocide obligates home states - those where companies are headquartered - to act in such cases. In particular, home states may be obligated to restrict social media access in the state in question and are permitted to do so under the laws of state responsibility. Finally, this paper discusses how possible domestic or international arrangements may be used to realize these obligations and the relative merits of each. A discussion of Myanmar demonstrates how these domestic and international options may function and emphasizing the urgency of the question.

Rapp, K. (2020). Law and Contestation in International Negotiations. Review of International Studies, 1-19. doi:10.1017/S0260210520000303

What is the role of rhetoric and argumentation in international relations? Some argue that it is little more than ‘cheap talk,’ while others say that it may play a role in persuasion or coordination. However, why states deploy certain arguments, and why these arguments succeed or fail, is less well understood. I argue that, in international negotiations, certain types of legal frames are particularly useful for creating winning arguments. When a state bases its arguments on constitutive legal claims, opponents are more likely to become trapped by the law: unable to develop sustainable rebuttals or advance their preferred policy. To evaluate this theory, I apply qualitative discourse analysis to the US arguments on the crime of aggression at the Kampala Review Conference of the International Criminal Court – where the US advanced numerous arguments intended to reshape the crime to align with US interests. The analysis supports the theoretical propositions – arguments framed on codified legal grounds had greater success, while arguments framed on more political grounds were less sustainable, failing to achieve the desired outcomes. These findings further develop our understanding of the use of international law in rhetoric, argumentation, and negotiation.