Humanity's Law

Humanity's Law

Humanity's Law

Humanity's Law

Synopsis

In Humanity's Law, renowned legal scholar Ruti Teitel offers a powerful account of one of the central transformations of the post-Cold War era: the profound normative shift in the international legal order from prioritizing state security to protecting human security. As she demonstrates, courts, tribunals, and other international bodies now rely on a humanity-based framework to assess the rights and wrongs of conflict; to determine whether and how to intervene; and to impose accountability and responsibility. Cumulatively, the norms represent a new law of humanity that spans the law of war, international human rights, and international criminal justice. Teitel explains how this framework is reshaping the discourse of international politics with a new approach to the management of violent conflict. Teitel maintains that this framework is most evidently at work in the jurisprudence of the tribunals-international, regional, and domestic-that are charged with deciding disputes that often span issues of internal and international conflict and security. The book demonstrates how the humanity law framework connects the mandates and rulings of diverse tribunals and institutions, addressing the fragmentation of global legal order. Comprehensive in approach, Humanity's Law considers legal and political developments related to violent conflict in Europe, North America, South America, and Africa. This interdisciplinary work is essential reading for anyone attempting to grasp the momentous changes occurring in global affairs as the management of conflict is increasingly driven by the claims and interests of persons and peoples, and state sovereignty itself is transformed.

Excerpt

We are living in a time of destabilizing political and legal changes. Often, it seems difficult to know whether we are at war or at peace; to determine what sort of conflict is at stake in a given situation; and, relatedly, to decide how best to address the conflict and to protect the persons, peoples, and/or states that it threatens. While both the end of polarized relations and the advent of globalization have their appeal, the renewed engagement has frequently seemed to mean that we see the possibility of intervention, but that hope is too often thwarted. Yet the closer we look, the more one can see that this situation has too frequently been viewed from a twentieth-century, state-centered perspective. Recently, there have been profound changes in the nature of interstate relations and conflict—all of which have pointed in the direction of the paradigm shift toward humanity law and, to some extent, away from interstate international law, that is identified here.

After I finished my first book Transitional Justice, which explored legal and political responses to the transitions characterizing the end of the twentieth century, it became apparent that—despite lurches toward liberal democratic peace—conflict and violence not only were here to stay, but in some regard were ever more conspicuous, at least insofar as they were having a vivid impact on civilians. Indeed, it seemed that it was precisely during fragile transitions—that is, moments of weakness—that states were at their most vulnerable.

Another puzzle that arose was that of the role of law, and why legal mechanisms and solutions seemed to proliferate. How could this development best be explained? It was clear that the lens we were using—which viewed situations from a state-centric perspective—lacked sufficient explanatory power. But why might that be? The law’s role seemed problematic, given the changes we had witnessed in the nature of the violence. It was necessary to ask: To what extent is the law addressing the real sources of conflict? What sort of law should properly be applied to twenty-first-century conflicts?

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