Cooperative States: International Relations, State Responsibility and the Problem of Custom
University of Virginia School of Law
May 1, 2002
Virginia Journal of International Law, Vol. 42, No. 1, 2002
The recent trend towards interdisciplinary research in international law and international relations has left a number of informal rules, such as the law of state responsibility, largely unexamined, if not the subject of outright skepticism. This is not surprising given state responsibility's predominantly customary character, the breadth of its scope, and its lack of any centralized enforcement mechanism. These characteristics are, however, entirely consistent with the role these rules play in the maintenance of international order. Rather than serving primarily as a guide for international adjudication, the law of state responsibility facilitates continuous bilateral cooperation, made possible by underlying configurations of interests between states. It achieves this end by improving communication, coalescing states' expectations around specific focal points, and refining cooperative solutions. This hypothesis explains many of the salient features of the United Nations International Law Commission's recent final series of articles on state responsibility. It also suggests that other customary regimes may play equally complex roles and should not be set aside as mere "behavioral regularities" devoid of normative content without further examination.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 30
Keywords: state responsibility, customary international law, law and international relations, public international law
JEL Classification: K33
Date posted: January 26, 2009 ; Last revised: August 27, 2009
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