Is International Law Really ‘Law’?

21 Pages Posted: 8 Nov 2010

Date Written: November 11, 2010


International law is enforced by the process I describe as reciprocal-entitlement violation. The violation may be of the same entitlement or, more likely, of a different entitlement. But it is on the whole an effective process - as effective for the international legal system as is the enforcement of most laws in domestic systems via the state-sanctioned deprivation of one or more entitlements held by individual citizens or corporations. It is impossible to understand why nations do or refrain from doing the things they do without understanding what the entitlements are and how nations act to preserve their full complement of existing entitlements.

Keywords: Reciprocal entitlements, Countermeasures, Tit-for-Tat, Proportionality of Response, International law, Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties

JEL Classification: K10, K30, K33

Suggested Citation

D'Amato, Anthony, Is International Law Really ‘Law’? (November 11, 2010). Northwestern University Law Review, Vol. 79, 1984; Northwestern Public Law Research Paper No. 10-71. Available at SSRN:

Anthony D'Amato (Contact Author)

Northwestern University - Pritzker School of Law ( email )

375 E. Chicago Ave
Chicago, IL 60611
United States

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