International law, the inherent instability of the international system, and international violence

Oxford Journal of Legal Studies 19 (1):51-70 (1999)

The paradox which characterizes the modern states system is that the dual structure of sovereignty and justice through which the system was originally conceived is no more, yet the system is still with us. Justice was redefined in the 19th century as a mere derivation of state sovereignty, a process reducing the focus of the system to sovereignty alone and thus dispossessing the system of a principle to mediate between the sovereign will and the international community. It is argued in this essay that the lack of a mediating principle may signify violence as inherent in the system, subsequently making intervention and terrorism facets of the established order rather than anomalies. Relying greatly on recent critical international legal studies, the article asks if the strategies suggested by lawyers such as Anthony D'Amato and Rosalyn Higgins to cope with the paradox, coupled with the contemporary universal human rights arguments, signal a move towards restoring the historical focus of the system
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DOI 10.1093/ojls/19.1.51
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