Article

International Law and Political Science

Wouter Werner

in International Law

ISBN: 9780199796953
Published online March 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780199796953-0050
International Law and Political Science

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During the first decades following World War II, international law and international politics became different fields of academic study. International politics and the role of power was studied in the discipline of international relations (IR), a discipline suspicious of utopian calls for “peace through law” and heavily influenced by rational choice theories and quantitative methods. International legal scholarship, on the other hand, turned away from politics, pragmatically focusing on technical-legal problem solving within the confines of positive law. The result was an absence of multidisciplinary discourse: two disciplines pursuing their own intellectual project. Developments in international society, however, made it increasingly difficult to maintain a strict separation between international law and international politics. Already during the Cold War, the proliferation of international regimes and institutions started to affect the foreign policy of states. These developments led to a renewed attention in IR scholarship for the development of normative practices or the role of normative regimes and shared expectations in international politics. In international law scholars drew attention to the possible legitimacy pull of international norms or the ways law structures decision making via values, procedures, and organizational structures. After the Cold War there followed projects that focused more explicitly on the political role of international law. Examples are (multidisciplinary) projects studying the “legalization of world politics,” the “politics of international law,” or the common conceptual underpinnings of international law and international politics. At the same time, international legal scholars increasingly acknowledged the intrinsic relation between international law and international politics. In the 1980s critical legal scholars explored international law’s underdetermined character and the ever-present danger that international legal arguments would lapse into apologies of political power. The 1990s and the early 21st century witnessed a growing number of publications that linked developments in international law to classical themes in IR literature, such as transnational and global governance, compliance theory, the social construction of reality, hegemony, imperialism, and the politics of legalism.

Article.  8109 words. 

Subjects: International Law ; International Courts and Tribunals ; Private International Law and Conflict of Laws ; Public International Law

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