International Law and Organization: An Introductory Reader

International Law and Organization: An Introductory Reader

International Law and Organization: An Introductory Reader

International Law and Organization: An Introductory Reader

Excerpt

The achievement of a proper appreciation of the role played by international law and organization in the conduct of international relations requires, above all else, a realistic sense of context. It is essential to take full account of the primary fact that the elements of power (or the capabilities to exert influence) in the international system are predominantly controlled by the governments of the principal nation-states. As a result, the only systems of order that can arise in international society presuppose high degrees of decentralization. If we can understand and accept the consequences of decentralization in international society, then we can proceed with benefit to compare the relatively centralized systems of legal order that have developed in national societies.

This basic comparison between the social and political structure of national and international society underlies a proper appreciation of the role of international law and organization. Such a comparison discourages the tendency to transplant domestic legal rules and institutional procedures into the quite different milieu of international life. Frequently the study of international law and organization has been hindered by the dual temptation (1) to measure its success as a legal order by the degree to which it resembles domestic legal order, and (2) to equate strengthening international law and organization with the adoption and growth of international variants of domestic law systems and domestic political institutions. To rely upon a domestic model to appraise the working of law and organization at the international level neglects the distinctive features of a decentralized legal system and overlooks the fact that transplanting centralized institutional practices to a decentralized setting is not likely to improve the quality of international order.

One need only refer to the long record of hopes and disappointments associated with the work of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to illustrate this point. The wide-spread disappointment of . . .

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