International law embodies the rules that govern the society of states. It spells out who can be a sovereign state and how to become one, what states can do, what they cannot do, and who can punish transgressions. It also determines the status of other actors, such as international organizations, heads of state, refugees, transnational religious institutions, and multinational corporations. International law is similar to domestic law, with one very crucial difference: it is not enforced by a centralized, sovereign state. In most other respects, it is the same: it protects the status quo, including the distribution of power among its members; it spells out legitimate and illegitimate ways of resolving conflicts of interest; it is biased toward the powerful; it tells its members how to act to coordinate their interests and minimize direct conflict; some of it is purely aspirational, some of it necessary for survival. And like domestic law, it is enforced only some of the time, and then against the weak more than the strong. Yet, law is still where we look for justice and, perhaps, the legitimation of order.
The Class: Type: lecture
Requirements/Evaluation: three quizzes, two midterm exams, one 6-page paper, and one final exam
Enrollment Preference: Political Science majors
Distributions: Division II;
Attributes: JLST Interdepartmental Electives; POEC International Political Economy Courses; PSCI International Relations Courses