United States Hegemony and the Foundations of International Law

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Twelve leading scholars of international law and international relations consider whether the current strength of the United States is leading to change in the international legal system. This book demonstrates that the effects of U.S. domination of the foundations of international law are real, but also intensely complex. The volume stimulates debate about the role of the United States in international law and interests scholars of international law and international relations, government officials and international organizations.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This book effectively poses the question 'What if the contemporary international legal order imposed constraints on hegemonic behavior?' One cannot help but predict that this winning blueprint for objective realism will become one of the favorites of international readers, because it graphically deconstructs the international community of nations' dilemma with current US hegemony." Newsletter UN21 Interest Group
Foreign Affairs
Throughout history, dominant states have reshaped international law. This book brings together legal and political scholars who assess how, if at all, the current predominance of the United States is leading to deep shifts in the international legal system. Their answer: U.S. power, coupled with the Bush administration's tendency to resist new rules and institutions, has set off struggles that are reshaping basic aspects of international law. Chapters explore the complexities of hegemonic power and law in a variety of areas, including the rules governing the use of force, sovereign equality, and treaties and compliance. Although the United States can indeed use its commanding position to ignore or manipulate international law, most of the authors argue that legal norms are more likely to survive and adapt than to erode or disappear. After all, international law is itself a creature of state power; all legal orders entail long-term accommodations to power and interests. In the aftermath of September 11, one author contends, the United States has challenged the accepted definition of self-defense but has also pushed for multilateral cooperation against terrorism.

Several of the authors even argue that although American power is unprecedented, the "international community" has the upper hand in shaping and protecting the law-based character of international relations. So today's hegemonic rule-breaking may still lead to rule-making. But, as is so often the case, it is still too early to tell.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521819497
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 6/1/2003
  • Pages: 552
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 1.38 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael Byers is Associate Professor of Law at Duke University.

Georg Nolte is Professor of Law at the University of Göttingen.

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Table of Contents

List of contributors; Preface; Introduction: the complexities of foundational change Michael Byers; Part I. International Community: 1. The international community, international law and the United States: three in one, two against one, or one and the same? Edward Kwakwa; 2. The influence of the United States on the concept of the 'International Community' Andreas Paulus; 3. Comments on chapters 1 and 2 Martti Koskenniemi, Steven Ratner and Volker Rittberger; Part II. Sovereign Equality: 4. Sovereign equality: 'the Wimbledon sails on' Michel Cosnard; 5. More equal than the rest? Hierarchy, equality and US predominance in international law Nico Krisch; 6. Comments on chapters 4 and 5 Pierre-Marie Dupuy, Matthias Herdegen and Gregory H. Fox; Part III. Use of Force: 7. The use of force by the United States after the end of the Cold War, and its impact on international law Marcelo G. Kohen; 8. Bending the law, breaking it, or developing it? The United States and the humanitarian use of force in the post-Cold War era Brad R. Roth; 9. Comments on chapters 7 and 8 Thomas Franck, Jochen Abr. Frowein and Daniel Thürer; Part IV. Customary International Law: 10. Powerful but unpersuasive? The role of the United States in the evolution of customary international law Stephen Toope; 11. Hegemonic custom? Achilles Skordas; 12. Comments on chapters 10 and 11 Rainer Hofmann, Andrew Hurrell and Rüdiger Wolfrum; Part V. Law of Treaties: 13. The effects of US predominance on the elaboration of treaty regimes and on the evolution of the law of treaties Pierre Klein; 14. US reservations to human rights treaties: all for one and none for all? Catherine Redgwell; 15. Comments on chapters 13 and 14 Jost Delbrück, Alain Pellet and Bruno Simma; Part VI. Compliance: 16. The impact on international law of US noncompliance Shirley V. Scott; 17. Compliance: multilateral achievements and predominant powers Peter-Tobias Stoll; 18. Comments on chapters 16 and 17 Vaughan Lowe, David M. Malone and Christian Tomuschat; Conclusion Georg Nolte; Index.

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