Innate Cosmopolitan Dialectics at the ICJ: Changing Perceptions of International Community, the Role of the Court, and the Legacy of Judge Álvarez
Leiden Journal of International Law (2014) 27.02: 309-330
25 Pages Posted: 29 Nov 2014
Date Written: 2014
Traditional conceptions of the international community have come under stress in a time of expanding international public order. Various initiatives purport to observe a reconceived international community from a variety of perspectives: transnational, administrative, pluralist, constitutional, etc. The perspectives on this changing dynamic evidenced by the International Court of Justice, however, have been largely neglected. But as the principal judicial institution tasked with representing the diversity of legal perspectives in the world, the Court represents an important forum by which to understand the changing appreciation of international community. While decisions of the Court have been restrained, an active discourse has been carried forward among individual judges. I look at part of that discourse, organized around one perspective, which I refer to as innate cosmopolitanism, introduced to the forum of the ICJ by the opinions of Judge Álvarez. The innate cosmopolitan perspective reflects an idea of the international community as an autonomous collectivity, enjoying a will, interests, or ends of its own, independent of constituent states. The application of that perspective under international law is put most to test in matters of international security, in particular where the interest in a discrete, global public order runs up against the right to self-defence vested in states. The innate cosmopolitan perspective has not, in these cases, achieved a controlling position – but, over time, it has been part of a dialectical process showing a change in the appreciation of international community before the Court, and a changing perception from the bench of the role of the Court in that community.
Keywords: Cosmopolitanism, dialectic, discourse, ICJ, international community, international security, Judge Álvarez, minority opinions
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