Jenks’ Ethic of Responsibility for the Disillusioned International Lawyer

Amsterdam Law School Research Paper No. 2016-63

Amsterdam Center for International Law No. 2016-20

25 Pages Posted: 28 Oct 2016

See all articles by Jean d'Aspremont

Jean d'Aspremont

Sciences Po Law School; University of Manchester - School of Law

Date Written: October 28, 2016


This paper submits that the work of C. W. Jenks constitutes not only an important strand of post-war idealism but also one of the early manifestations of the bold and sophisticated managerialism that would come to dominate international legal thought at the end of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st century. And yet, as is also argued here, Jenks’ work is not solely a historical junction between the idealist and the managerialist projects of international law. Both aspects of Jenks revolve around an ethic of responsibility for international lawyers. It is argued in this article that, more than his idealism and managerialism, it is Jenks’ ethic of responsibility that has the potential to resonate the most among the 21st century, self-declared disillusioned international lawyers.

This article is structured as follows. Section 1 discusses the idealistic dimensions of Jenks’ scholarship (1) while section 2 zeroes in on the managerialist dynamics that permeate his work (2). After these observations on Jenks the idealist and Jenks the managerialist, the argument proceeds with the claim that the approach advocated by Jenks is not simply two-faceted, for his idealism and managerialism, as is demonstrated in section 3, are informed by an ethic of responsibility (3). This is Jenks the deontologist. As is discussed in the concluding part, this ethic of responsibility constitutes, in the eyes of the 21st century international lawyer, the most inspiring and refreshing aspects of the oeuvre of Jenks (4).

Keywords: international law, the law of international organizations, international institutions, managerialism, idealism, professional ethic, legal theory, sources, interventionism, international community, welfare, human rights

JEL Classification: K33

Suggested Citation

d'Aspremont, Jean, Jenks’ Ethic of Responsibility for the Disillusioned International Lawyer (October 28, 2016). Amsterdam Law School Research Paper No. 2016-63. Available at SSRN: or

Jean D'Aspremont (Contact Author)

Sciences Po Law School ( email )

13 rue de l'université
Paris, 75007


University of Manchester - School of Law ( email )

Oxford Road
Manchester M13 9PL, M139PL
United Kingdom


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