Social Theory of law
Seminar 4 notes, week 5
Tom Stanford ()
The very idea of international law is a non-starter because it violates the right of nations to govern themselves as they see fit.
Legitimacy of the state is based on it having ultimate power (Kelsen – pure theory), and a country’s sovereignty is overridden by international law. (See example of Home Secretary David Blunkett surrendering rights to control immigration policy in the country last week).
It has great problems with any sort of efficacy, as IL is constantly being derogated from, for example by the
Furthermore, what of such technicalities in IL that allow clearly obvious contradictory situations to be allowed, such as the internment of suspected terrorists in
There are too many cultural differences existing between countries, and as such, there can be know ‘super’ law to encompass all – could be seen as an argument against natural law theory’s.
It is just an extension of the Anglo-American interests in enforcing neo-socialist, liberal economy laws throughout the globe.
Phillip Bobbit – ‘The Achilles Shield’ – would agree with this suggestion, as his conception involved applying the purpose of international law to the ‘market state’, or rather market globe.
Bobbit states that country’s need companies to have low tax, to provide jobs and keep the nation’s economy afloat. Therefore law is considered in its economic light – e.g. terrorism is seen as a problem as it inhibits trade, and it is a threat to capitalism.
Hobbes – Leviathan – saw orderless men at odds, requiring a ruler with a monopoly of force. This might support the view that IL does violate the right of nations to govern themselves. However, could it also be seen to support this ‘violation’, as a Leviathan is requisite in a global context.
This depends on our understanding of international peace seeking/keeping bodies, such as the UN. Is it that it is a dominating controlling body, or more of a symbol for a desired, shared ideology? (i.e. is it peace seeking, or peace keeping?) NB – UN doesn’t have standing army.
Was Hobbes’ Leviathan theory meant to be applied to a
global context, or was it just concerned with nation sovereignty?
IL does have a problem with efficacy, but rather than allowing for it to be seen us upholding the right to nation sovereignty it needs to be made stronger whilst imposing harsher restrictions.
IL clearly serves many purposes that are inescapable and are required as in consideration of the entire world. E.g. border disputes, pollution, human rights, etc.
Important organisations such as Amnesty International and Red Cross came about because of IL.
IL controls how change of sovereignty takes place. Furthermore, if treaties are essential, who will safeguard them if IL doesn’t?