The Struggle for an International Constitutional Order

Authored by: Marc Weller

Routledge Handbook of International Law

Print publication date:  December  2008
Online publication date:  January  2009

Print ISBN: 9780415418768
eBook ISBN: 9780203884621
Adobe ISBN: 9781134113095


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International law has come under pressure in recent years. The possible rise in unilateral action by the United States, claims of exceptionalism in relation to “rogue states,” the failure to respond effectively to man-made humanitarian disasters and genocide, and the Asian values debate have all undermined the credibility of the universal legal order. However, although somewhat obscured by these day-to-day developments in international politics, very significant advances have taken place in international law. These changes are driven by the readjustment of the international system to new, postmodern realities. They include a questioning of state sovereignty, the increasing role of non-state actors in the international public realm, the ever increasing need for transnational cooperation in the face of common challenges and the entrenchment of certain universal core values. Gradually, these factors are combining to establish a global constitutional order.

Set against this background, this chapter analyzes recent trends in the international legal order relating to issues of statehood, sovereignty, democracy, the law-making process, international competencies and institutions, and compliance management. It argues that these developments, when taken together, reveal far more advanced structures of international life than are generally presumed to exist. The international constitutional law approach offers a unifying framework for understanding these advances, both to international legal experts and to scholars of international relations.

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