Research Handbooks in International Law series
Edited by Alexander Orakhelashvili
Chapter 11: International Law, International Politics and Ideology
Alexander Orakhelashvili 11.1 INTRODUCTION The interaction between legal and political arguments is based on the premise that while international legal science draws its data from the rules agreed upon by and binding on States, international relations theory has no such point of reference. This chapter is aimed both at taking stock of doctrinal approaches, and their reappraisal with a view to streamlining the argument on how the relationship between legal and political factors should be understood. This aim requires adopting an interdisciplinary focus, especially as the theory of international relations is (sub)consciously premised on the structural and sociological foundations of international law. The inter-disciplinary analysis in terms of mapping the joint discipline and constructing joint research agenda is legitimate and useful.1 The purpose of interdisciplinary analysis is to evaluate the working of the legal system and critically assess its merits. Social and political scientists are supposed to examine how crucial international law is for the existence of international society, how it may shape and transform this society, and how it influences the conduct of States. International relations theory does with international law what sociological and critical methods of legal science do in relation to the study of national legal systems. International relations theory has indeed developed ‘instrumentalist’ and ‘normative’ optics, the former allegedly underestimating the impact of shared norms on State behaviour, being challenged by the latter. The fundamental question theories pose is whether States care for reputation, or only calculation of interest and power really counts. This phenomenon...
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