Edited by Christopher May and Adam Winchester
Chapter 7: The rule of law in inter-national relations: Contestation despite diffusion–diffusion through contestation
This chapter discusses the rule of law as fundamental norm of global governance. Like most such norms, its universal validity claim is globally well diffused, yet locally contested. Despite high recognition in the global realm, a norm’s impact never corresponds with its cover. It is as much a common sense among international lawyers that a norm’s acceptance grows with the degree of elusiveness, as it is a shared wisdom among International Relations (IR) theorists that a norm’s acceptance depends on social recognition. This is unlikely to change. Universal validity claims never fit seamlessly in environments where they stand to be implemented. They are continuously challenged through the mobilisation of particularistic validity claims. How contested meanings of norms play out thus remains a central issue of global governance. While there is a growing IR literature taking into account cultural background experience, this literature remains notably silent on norms. This has left a gap between norms as a subject of legal studies and the cultural generation of knowledge as a subject of sociology or cultural studies. This chapter proposes a framework for norms research to account for these everyday practices.
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