International Law and International Community

Authored by: Andreas Paulus

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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The term “international community” adds a normative element of common values to the more factual notion of an interconnected international society composed of states and other international actors. The chapter analyzes institutionalist, liberal and post-modern views of the international community. It also looks at more recent claims that international law is fragmenting rather than developing into a community. The chapter concludes that a common ground of values is needed for international law to function. The international community does not constitute a system superior to all others, but is a shortcut for the dealings of states and non-state actors beyond state boundaries, and for a collective endeavor to tackle problems such as the protection of the environment and the prevention of genocide and famine.

But do the nations constitute a community? … The history of International Law is, largely, the history of the formation of this community, so far as it may be said to have been formed – the building up of common opinions upon common practices and the writings of commonly accepted commentators.

(Wilson 1969: 455; emphasis in original)

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