Conflict and Compromise: International Law and World Order in a Revolutionary Age

By Edward McWhinney | Go to book overview

Acknowledgments

Some of the propositions advanced in the present volume were tested, as experimental hypotheses, in lectures to the Centro de Relaciones Internacionales of the Facultad de Ciencias Politicas y Sociales of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México in Mexico City in May 1978. They were canvassed again, more recently, in seminars and discussions held in the spring of 1980, with faculty and members of the Institute of Law of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Peking, the Department of Law of the Peking University, the East China Institute of Law and Political Science in Shanghai, and the Department of International Politics of the Fudan University in Shanghai. Acknowledgment must also be gratefully made of the opportunity to talk at length with senior officials of the Department of International Organization, Treaties, and Laws, of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Peking.

There are some extra problems and some extra intellectual advantages in trying to communicate one's particular, specialist, scientific discipline either to a highly literate but lay (non-specialist or else broadly interdisciplinary) audience in one's own cultural community, or to a group of specialists in one's own field but from a different culture, particularly if it be a third world culture. One finds, quickly enough, that what one thought of as eternal verities of international law and world public order in general are often no more than particular responses by one's own cultural community to particular social or economic problems of the world community at particular stages in its historical development. Far from being timeless absolutes in themselves, the principles or norms advanced may be rooted in their own space-time dimension, and therefore subject to critical scrutiny and re-examination in the light of new societal facts and new demands and expectations in the world community at large. There is, in fact, nothing like the intellectual challenge of having to defend, on a rigorously scientific basis, a proposition that

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