Journal Article - Quarterly Journal: International Security

Caught Red-Handed: How States Wield Proof to Coerce Wrongdoers

| Fall 2021


States frequently acquire proof that other states have violated norms. Yet, existing theories do not fully explain how states that catch others red-handed use such proof to coerce wrongdoers. Four case studies of nuclear proliferation—Taiwan, Libya, South Africa, and North Korea—probe a novel theory of how discoverers may conceal proof of wrongdoing, share such proof with other actors privately, or reveal their proof to the world. These cases illustrate how coercive power affects states’ decision-making regarding use of proof.

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation:

Cullen G. Nutt and Reid B.C. Pauly, "Caught Red-Handed: How States Wield Proof to Coerce Wrongdoers," International Security, Vol. 46, No. 2 (Fall 2021), pp. 7–50,

The Authors