Chapter

International Law and Power in the Multipolar and Multicivilizational World of the Twenty-first Century

Yasuaki Onuma

in Legality and Legitimacy in Global Affairs

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780199781577
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199932887 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199781577.003.0006
International Law and Power in the Multipolar and Multicivilizational World of the Twenty-first Century

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This chapter provides an introduction to some of the central issues of international law. The first part of the chapter discusses the complex relationship between power and international law, mainly dealing with the ability of international law to control the actions of sovereign states in various ways. Also examined in this section are the situations in which international law as a legitimizing agent is able to constrain and orient state power. The second part is conceptually more challenging. Adopting the theoretical framework of ideational power, this section introduces the crucial role of international law to construct and reconstruct realities in various dimensions of international relations. Lastly, the trans-civilizational perspective is introduced as a means to fill the perceived ‘legitimacy gap’ in international law as it exists today.

Keywords: international law; legitimizing agent; constructive function; ideational power; trans-civilizational perspective; legitimacy gap

Chapter.  24706 words. 

Subjects: International Relations

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