The Morality of International Legal Reform

Allen Buchanan

in Justice, Legitimacy, and Self-Determination

Published in print August 2003 | ISBN: 9780198295358
Published online April 2004 | e-ISBN: 9780191600982 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Political Theory

 The Morality of International Legal Reform

Show Summary Details


Ch. 10 summarized the main proposals for reform that have been argued in this book, briefly restating the moral framework linking justice, legitimacy, and self‐determination that grounds them, and noting that implementing the proposed reforms probably would require significant changes in international law regarding armed intervention. The aims of this chapter are (1) to explain more fully why a new legal framework for armed intervention is needed for successful legal reform, (2) to examine the advantages and disadvantages of the major types of strategies for achieving the needed reform in the law of armed intervention, from the perspective of both feasibility and morality, and (3) to show that the most promising strategy for reform may be the creation of a treaty‐based, rule‐governed liberal‐democratic regime for armed intervention that bypasses the current UN Charter‐based requirement of Security Council authorization and that does not depend upon the US to act as the world's policeman. In addition, it is argued that although the most promising strategy for reform may require violating existing international law, it is nonetheless morally justifiable. The more general point made is that under certain conditions a willingness to violate existing international law for the sake of reforming it can be not only consistent with a sincere commitment to the rule of law, but even required by it. The six sections of the chapter are: I. The Need for Reform regarding the Law of Intervention; II. Three Types of Strategies for Legal Reform; III. The Morality of Illegal Legal Reform; IV. The Commitment to the Rule of Law; V. Moral Authority; and VI. Conclusions.

Keywords: armed intervention; feasibility; Illegal Legal Reform; international law; international legal reform; legal reform; Moral Authority; morality; reform; violation of international law

Chapter.  13402 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.