Courts, Codes, and Custom addresses the question of why some states recognize and comply with international human rights and environmental law, while others do not. To address this question, Dana Zartner has developed a novel cultural-institutional theory to explain the manner in which a state's domestic legal tradition shapes policy through the process of internalization. A state's legal tradition-the cultural and institutional factors that shape attitudes about the law, appropriate standards of behavior, and the legal process-is the key mechanism by which international law becomes recognized, accepted, and internalized in the domestic legal framework. Legal tradition shapes not only perceptions about law, but also provides the lens through which policy-makers view state interests, directly and indirectly influencing state policy. The book disaggregates the concept of legal tradition and examines how the individual cultural and institutional characteristics present within a state's domestic legal tradition facilitate or hinder the internalization of international law and, subsequently, shape state policy.
In turn it explains both the differences in international law recognition across legal traditions, as well as the variance among states within legal traditions. To test this theory Zartner compares case studies within five of the main legal traditions in the world today: common law (U.S. and Australia), civil law (Germany and Turkey), Islamic law (Egypt and Saudi Arabia), mixed traditions (India and Kenya), and East Asian law (China and Japan). She addresses the differences among legal traditions as well as between states within the same tradition; the important role that legal culture and history play in shaping contemporary attitudes about law; and similarities and differences in state policy towards human rights law versus environmental law.