Mirages of International Justice

Mirages of International Justice

The Elusive Pursuit of a Transnational Legal Order

Matthew Parish

Since the end of the Cold War there has been an explosion of international courts and tribunals that sit apart from domestic legal systems, yet they are often woefully inadequate for their stated purposes. This book explores common problems across these courts, and applies a constructivist theory of international relations to explain their operation.

Preface

Matthew Parish

Subjects: law - academic, criminal law and justice, human rights, international economic law, trade law, public international law, politics and public policy, human rights, international politics

Extract

Does international law really achieve the goals we want it to? This book suggests not. We hold high hopes for international law, from banning landmines and cluster munitions, to upholding human rights in the face of domestic repression, to fostering coordination of international solutions to climate change, to prosecuting war criminals and holding senior politicians accountable for genocides, to mediating conflicts and preventing wars. Almost uniquely amongst areas of law, international law is vested with moral significance by its advocates; it is said that many of the world’s international and even domestic problems can be resolved by upholding international law. Yet therein lie its dangers. I suggest these aspirations are bound to be disappointed. I am not the first to express such pessimism; several scholars have expressed the view that in an anarchic world of self-interested states harbouring their own military force to defend and conquer, there is no good reason to expect the high aspirations of international law to be observed. But I do not think international law is irrelevant. I am of the view that it makes a real difference to international relations and even domestic politics. It makes the world of international relations vastly more complex, by adding to the anarchy of states a series of autonomous international institutions, each with their own interests, goals and powers. International courts exist, purporting to mete out international justice. Yet this image, so carefully cultivated, is a charade. International courts exist not to resolve disputes impartially, but to cement their...