Universal Exceptionalism in International Law

54 Pages Posted: 27 Apr 2016

See all articles by Anu Bradford

Anu Bradford

Columbia University - Law School

Eric A. Posner

University of Chicago - Law School

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: Winter 2011


A trope of international law scholarship is that the United States is an “exceptionalist” nation, one that takes a distinctive (frequently hostile, unilateralist, or hypocritical) stance toward international law. However, all major powers are similarly “exceptionalist,” in the sense that they take distinctive approaches to international law that reflect their values and interests. We illustrate these arguments with discussions of China, the European Union, and the United States. Charges of international-law exceptionalism betray an undefended assumption that one particular view of international law (for scholars, usually the European view) is universally valid.

Keywords: international law, exceptionalism

Suggested Citation

Bradford, Anu and Posner, Eric A., Universal Exceptionalism in International Law (Winter 2011). Harvard International Law Journal, Vol. 52, No. 1, 2011. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2770597

Anu Bradford (Contact Author)

Columbia University - Law School ( email )

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Eric A. Posner

University of Chicago - Law School ( email )

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Chicago, IL 60637
United States
773-702-0425 (Phone)
773-702-0730 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.law.uchicago.edu/faculty/posner-e/

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