International Law and Constructivism: Elements of an International Theory of International Law

Posted: 16 Jul 2009

See all articles by Jutta Brunnée

Jutta Brunnée

University of Toronto, Faculty of Law

Stephen J. Toope

University of Cambridge

Date Written: July 10, 2009

Abstract

By linking the interactional legal theory of Lon L. Fuller to the insights of recent constructivist literature in international relations (IR) theory, this article posits a distinctive explanation of the binding force of international law and begins to trace out an explanation of law’s persuasive power in international society. The authors challenge the dominant positivist explanations of law in international legal theory, and show how those explanations have been borrowed uncritically even by many of those international relations scholars who have paid particular attention to the role of norms in world politics. Arguing that law is most persuasive when it is created through processes of mutual construction by a wide range of participants in a legal system, the authors focus upon a particular understanding of legal legitimacy, rooted in adherence to internal morality and specificity of legal rationality, a specificity generated in large measure by rhetorical processes. The article concludes with suggestions for a shared research agenda for international lawyers and constructivist IR scholars.

Keywords: environmental law, interactional theory, international relations (IR) theory, constructivism, international legal theory, world politics

Suggested Citation

Brunnée, Jutta and Toope, Stephen J., International Law and Constructivism: Elements of an International Theory of International Law (July 10, 2009). Columbia Journal of Transnational Law, Vol. 39, 2000. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1432539

Jutta Brunnée (Contact Author)

University of Toronto, Faculty of Law ( email )

78 and 84 Queen's Park
Toronto, Ontario M5S 2C5
Canada
416-946-7353 (Phone)
416-978-7899 (Fax)

Stephen J. Toope

University of Cambridge ( email )

Trinity Ln
Cambridge, CB2 1TN
United Kingdom

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