Politics of the International Rule of Law

Lecture Series "Beyond Anarchy: Rule and Authority in the International System"

Prof. Ian Hurd,
Northwestern University

4 December 2013, 6.15pm
Goethe-University Frankfurt am Main
Campus Westend, Hörsaalzentrum HZ 9

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Abstract
he international rule of law is often seen a centerpiece of the modern international order. It is routinely reaffirmed by governments, international organizations, scholars, and activists. On drones and targeted killing, on the use of force, military intervention and non-intervention, and on territorial questions and border disputes, governments frequently suggest that a rule-of-law system among states is the progressive, humane, and modern alternative to power politics, brute force, and coercion. The rule of law often appears as a charmed concept, essentially without critics or doubters, and outside of the realm of politics. In contrast to this view, I consider the political context and content of the international rule of law. Rather than a universal concept that embodies shared interests and goals of states, the international rule of law is a political resource that states use to legitimize and delegitimize contending policies. International law is within international politics. Appeal by govern ments to the international rule of law as a solution to a political dispute must be seen as power politics in a legal form. This involves more than just asking questions about who writes the rules and for what interests. It also means examining how international law is used in international politics. I examine what the rule of law means for world politics, what it does, and what it replaces.

CV
Ian Hurd is Associate Professor of political science at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. His research is on the politics of international law. It examines how governments use international law to construct and defend their policy positions, and the power of law in shaping those decisions. He is currently writing a book about the international rule of law which focuses on legal and politics questions around the war, drones, torture, and more. He has written widely in the past on international organizations, international law, and international relations, including in the books International Organizations: Politics, Law, Practice (2nd ed. 2013) and After Anarchy: Legitimacy and Power in the UN Security Council (2007) which won the Myres McDougal prize (Policy Sciences Society) and the Chadwick Alger prize (International Studies Association). His articles and essays have appeared in International Organization, International Politics, the Chinese Journal of International Politics, Foreign Affairs, Global Governance, Ethics and International Affairs, the Journal of International Organization Studies, and elsewhere.

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